Something interesting about James Joyce that will not be in my May 20 introduction to Ulysses:
Joyce and Ernest Hemingway, together in Paris in the 1920s, were a literary odd couple if ever there was one. Joyce was physically weak and – despite his carnal appetites – intellectually monkish. Hemingway fancied himself an accomplished pugilist and took every opportunity to demonstrate his skills. Hemingway’s 1961 obituary in the New York Times includes Hemingway’s characterization of Joyce as “a thin, wispy, and unmuscled man with defective eyesight” (perhaps the result of a syphilis infection), noting, as well, that the two of them “did a certain amount of drinking in Paris.” Joyce would persistently pick drunken fights, then, having angered his antagonist, would duck behind Hemingway, whom Joyce described as a “big powerful peasant, as strong as a buffalo,” and cry, “Deal with him, Hemingway. Deal with him.” A call to arms Hemingway was usually only too happy to obey.
In a 1923 letter to Sherwood Anderson (author of the splendid book of stories, Winesburg, Ohio), Hemingway wrote: “Joyce has a most god-dam wonderful book,” pronouncing Joyce “the greatest writer in the world.” Though there is compelling evidence to suggest that Hemingway never actually made it through Ulysses.
[The above drawn shamelessly from Josh Jones’s piece in Open Culture, November 2015.]