Pg. 464 of David Markson’s copy of James Joyce: Two Decades of Criticism by Various (Ed. Seon Givens):
On which Markson placed a check next to the following information:
“A passage in Mr. Frank Budgen’s fascinating reminiscences of Joyce at the time when Ulysses was in the making (in Zurich, 1915-1919), entitled James Joyce and the Making of ‘Ulysses,’ illustrates the extreme care with which Joyce not only chose his words but ordered their arrangement.
I enquired about Ulysses. Was it progressing?
‘I have been working hard on it all day,’ said Joyce.”
James Joyce’s “extreme care” in writing, his meticulous working and reworking of sentences, is well-known.
In Markson’s last novel The Last Novel, the “Novelist” seems incensed by accusations that Joyce’s style in Ulysses is “diarrheic.”
“Anyone who would employ the word diarrheic to describe a book as exactingly crafted in every line as Ulysses has either never read eleven consecutive words or possesses the literary perception of a rutabaga.
Ulysses Diarrheic, unquote. Dale Peck.”
- The Last Novel, pg. 168.
For Markson, and for myself, it is its preciseness of language that makes Ulysses worth continual rereads.
As Markson said of Ulysses in his Bookslut interview:
“I can always reread Ulysses. In fact I went through it twice, consecutively, just a few years ago. But hell, that’s not like reading a novel, it’s more like reading the King James Bible. Or Shakespeare. You’re at it for the language.”
Markson even mentioned on pg. 91 of Vanishing Point:
“Joyce said he spent twenty thousand hours writing Ulysses.”
Twenty thousand hours?
Sounds ridiculous. But, somehow, I believe it.
You’re at it for the language.