Vol. 8 No. 2 1941 - page 82

My Friend James Joyce
Eugene Jolas
intimately, James Joyce was a human
being of great warmth and charm, although, at first approach, his
personality could seem almost f orhidding. In fact, it took him
some time to accept an easy comradeship in social
often appeared to he on his guard, an attitude that was particularly
noticeable during the period of excessive curiosity concerning him
that followed the publication of
But once he had given
his friendship, nothing could swerve him from his granitic loyalty.
He was never an ebullient man. His moments of silence and intro·
spection frequently weighed, even, on his immediate surroundings.
Then a profound . pessimism, that seemed to hold him prisoner
withip himself, made him quite inaccessible to outsiders. Usually,
however, among his intimates, there finally came a festive pause,
when he would begin to dance and sing, or engage in barbed thrusts
of wit; when he would show flashes of gayety and humor that could,
on occasion, approach a kind of delidum.
He was never an easy conversationalist, and had a tendency
to monosyllabic utterances. He did not relish being questioned
directly on any subject. He never gave any interviews, and I was
always careful not to quote him for publication. When he was in
the mood, his talk, given in his mellifluous Dublin speech, was a
ripple of illuminating ideas and words. Once he had left his
anarchic and misanthropic taciturnity, he could enjoy the com·
panionship of his friends, on whom, in some ways, he was very
dependent, with a demonstration of good fellowship that brought
out another facet of his nature. He eschewed all esotericism in his
talk. Nor was he interested in high-flown abstractions, hut en·
grossed rather by the drama of human relations, human behavior,
human thought and customs. The range of subjects he enjoyed
discussing was a wide one: poetry prodigiously remembered and
faultlessly recited; music and musicians, especially singing, of
which his technical knowledge was astonishing; the theatre, where
his preferences went to Ibsen, Hauptmann, Scribe; the various lit-
80,81 83,84,85,86,87,88,89,90,91,92,...160
Powered by FlippingBook