Cinema: Not the Best, Not the Worst

Ulysses. James Joyce was movie crazy. In the days before his eyes went bad, he saw every film he could, and in 1909 he established and managed the first movie theater in Dublin. In composing Ulysses, the enormous, erudite and scandalous masterpiece that is one of the few great novels of the century, he consciously employed the techniques of cinema: long shot, closeup, flashback, dissolve, montage. The cinematic character of the novel was excitedly recognized by moviemakers, and down the years some of the best—among them Sergei Eisenstein and John Huston—have unsuccessfully undertaken the prodigious labor of getting Ulysses off the...

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