Conversations with James Joyce
By: Arthur Power
‘In the Dublin of my day there was the kind of desperate freedom which comes from a lack of responsibility, for the English were in governance then, so everyone said what he liked. Now I hear since the Free State came in there is less freedom. The Church has made inroads everywhere, so that we are in fact becoming a bourgeois nation, with the Church supplying our aristocracy, and I do not see much hope for us intellectually. Once the Church is in command she will devour everything.’
-James Joyce in conversation with Arthur Power.
This is the first paperback edition of Arthur Power’s unique and fascinating account of his friendship with James Joyce during the 1920s. Power, a young Irishman working as an art critic in Paris, first met Joyce in a Montparnasse dancehall, and the two men maintained a prickly friendship for several years. Power re-creates his conversations with the master, on a remarkable range of topics, literary and otherwise. We read of Joyce’s thoughts on writers past and present: Synge, Ibsen, Hardy, Turgenev, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Dostoevsky, Gide, Proust, T.S. Eliot, Tennyson and Shakespeare. Joyce also speaks of the looming might of America (‘Political influence, yes, but not cultural’); of religion (‘Do you believe in a next life?’ ‘I don’t think much of this life’); and of his own work.
ARTHUR POWER (1891-1984) was raised in Waterford, and served in the First World War before moving to Paris. He later returned to Ireland and was art critic for The Irish Times. He is the author of From the Old Waterford House (1940). Conversations with James Joyce, edited by the Joyce scholar Clive Hart, was originally published in 1974.