Books: Silence, Exile & Death

Last week a little group of people got together in Manhattan in an atmosphere of unaccustomed awe. They were friends of James Joyce—Editor Eugene Jolas (transition) and his wife; Poet Padraic Colum and his wife; Robert Nathan Kastor, brother of Joyce's daughter-in-law; others. Fortnight before, a terse cable had announced that the author of Ulysses and Finnegans Wake was dead in Zurich. Joyce's friends were forming a committee to aid his widow, daughter and son.

To many a baffled reader of Finnegans Wake, the death of Joyce meant merely that the "cult of unintelligibility" had lost its chief prophet. To his admirers,...

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