chapter  73
2 Pages

Francis Hackett, Review in New Republic 1918

So good are the fine qualities of Exiles that the defects seem to be an illusion, but the more the play is examined the more fundamental and inexplicable seem its defects. It is part of Mr. Joyce's gift that he appears intuitive and occult. It does not seem possible that all his intuition and penetration could go astray. But Exiles neither creates a perfect conviction of being like human experience nor quite recalls experience in terms anything like its own. On the contrary, Mr. Joyce seems definitely to force human beings to do and say unlikely things, and to jumble up the true perspective of their lives. He is exceedingly keen in making people talk like people. He has a genius for idiom and idiosyncrasy and no one could be better than he in the way he dovetails his conversations. His ear is sharp, also, for the click of one personality against another, and for the corroborative phrase. But when it comes to comprehending men and women in their skins and under them, he can hardly be said to be reliable. There is an unreality around certain passages in Exiles that suggests the literary alchemist vaguely striving to transmute pretty theories into honest flesh and blood. The flesh and blood o£ Exiles, so far as it is honest, does not fit the theories. They are imposed by their author on subjects unwilling and rebellious. The result is a disharmony that almost defies literary analysis. It condemns Exiles to a limbo outside the normal hell and heaven of appraisal.