TITLE: Vindicated AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: July 06, 2010 1:03 PM DESC: ----- BODY: By H. G. Wells, no less:
"You have turned your back on common men, on their elementary needs and their restricted time and intelligence," H.G. Wells complained to Joyce after reading "Finnegans Wake." That didn't faze him. "The demand that I make of my reader," Joyce said, "is that he should devote his whole life to reading my works." To which the obvious retort is: Life's too short.
This passage comes from an article on the complexity of modern art. Some modern art works for me, but I long ago lost interest in writers who complicate their work seemingly with the goal of proving to me how smart they are. Some of my friends love such writers and look at me in the same way they look at children and puppies. I must admit, with no small measure of guilt, that I have occasionally wondered how much their interest in these writers rested in a hidden desire to show how smart they are. I've mentioned at least a couple of times that I prefer small books to large, and on that criterion alone I could bypass "Ulysses" and "Finnegans Wake". Joyce compounds their length with sentence structures and made-up words that numb my small brain and squanders my limited time. Their complexity and deeply-woven literary allusions may well reward the reader who devotes his life to studying Joyce. But for me, life is indeed too short. I must admit that I very much enjoyed Joyce's comparatively svelte "Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man". I also enjoyed H. G. Wells's science fiction, though as literature it never rises anywhere near the level of "Portrait". -----