Scofield Thayer on Joyce's Works 1918
Stephen Dedalus, the hero of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, desires to try out all possible means of expression. Whether or not the somewhat scattered personality of this hero be a child wholly after his father's heart, at any rate Mr. Joyce himself is publicly trying out his own mettle in the short story, the novel, the Elizabethan lyric, and the Ibsenesque drama. The most recent of his publications in this country is Exiles, a prose play in three acts. . . . The play appears to be intended to illustrate a problem and perhaps to throw light upon it; the question is so intricate that I for one am quite unable to follow even the speeches of the characters, still less to fathom the author's own intention or conclusion. The problem is the seasoned one of marriage and freedom, but just what takes place and why and what the upshot of it all is does not emerge from the emotional scenes and the final disintegration of the protagonist. On the stage, which stops for no man, this drama would be an impregnable puzzle; and even when it is held fast on the printed page, hopelessly conflicting solutions vie with one another. Next time Mr. Joyce would do well to try his hand at exegesis and to take this play as his subject.