The Perceptions of James Joyce

John Kelleher in The Atlantic Monthly: [Ed. Note. This review first ran in the Atlantic Monthly, March 1958.]

Joyce If the day should come that I walk into the classroom, unfurl my opening lecture on Joyce; and find at the end of the hour that I had as well been talking about Alfred Lord Tennyson, I shall not be unduly surprised. No writer’s original fame lasts forever with the young. Joyce has already had an unusually long run with them; and though their interest shows no present signs of weakening, when it does fail it will likely fail suddenly. Everything in literature has its term, and, if worthy, its renewal. That the rediscovery of Joyce will occur, with full fanfare, within a generation after his rejection, may be taken as certain. However, that will be no affair of mine.

Meanwhile, I predict with confidence that when the rest of Joyce’s books pass into temporary disfavor A Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man will go on being read, possibly as much as ever, by youths from eighteen to twenty-two. They will read it and recommend it to one another just as lads their age do now, and for the same reasons. That is, they will read it primarily as useful and reassuring revelation — not as literature, for they will be blind to its irony and its wonderful engineering, the qualities Joyce most labored to give it.

More here.