Holbrook Jackson, Review in To-day 1922
The attitude has its dangers. Mr. Joyce has faced them, or, rather, ignored them. He has been perfectly logical. He has recorded everything-everything in a single day of the life of an uninteresting and, to me, unpleasant, and, if we forget the parable of the sparrows, negligible
human being. This modern Ulysses is one Bloom, the Irish-Jewish advertisement canvasser of a Dublin newspaper. To read the novel is to spend a full day in the company of this person from the time he rises in the morning and gives his wife breakfast in bed to the time of retiring to his bed late at night, whither his wife has already preceded him. You spend no ordinary day in his company; it is a day of the most embarrassing intimacy. You live with him minute by minute; go with him everywhere, physically and mentally; you are made privy to his thoughts and emotions; you are introduced to his friends and enemies; you learn what he thinks of each, every action and reaction of his psychology is laid bare with Freudian nastiness until you know his whole life through and through; know him, in fact, better than you know any other being in art or life-and detest him heartily. The creation of Bloom is an achievement of genius. . . . You do not feel grateful to Mr. Joyce for the introduction [of Bloom]. It is not clear why he troubled to introduce him. At times I could not help feeling that the object was not so objectless as I had believed. Is Ulysses a stone flung at humanity-is Bloom the Twentieth Century Yahoo? . . . an ungainly, loose-limbed book which falls to pieces as you read it-as, indeed, you do. The very format of the book is an affront. Bloom could have been drawn effectively in a quarter the words. There are the deadliest of Dead Seas in this ocean of prose. You get becalmed in them-bored, drowsed, bewildered. And there are gulfs and bays which are muddy and noisome with the sewage of civilisation. On the other hand there are wide stretches of magnificent prose even when it is made up of unsavoury ingredients. Mr. James Joyce can write.