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Conversations with James Joyce

By: Arthur Power

Publication Date: November 1999

(1 customer review)


‘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’s book was written in his old age (he lived into his nineties) and though it is relatively short, it conveys more of Joyce’s personality and style of talk than several dozen of the many other books poured out on him.’ The Irish Times

‘A hidden masterpiece.’ Customer review


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. Read more here.

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1 review for Conversations with James Joyce

  1. Lilliput Press

    “There are not many books dealing with Joyce’s literary opinions and few are privy to what Joyce actually thought about modern literature or modern writers. Arthur Power (1891-1984) was just establishing himself in the Paris of 1922 when by chance he met Joyce at at dance hall, the Bal Bullier, after a young French ‘blanchisseuse’ stood him up. What followed was an intimate friendship where the 40 year old Joyce and the 30 year old Power talked and discussed many topics such as Russian Literature (with surprising comments by Joyce on Pushkin: ‘He was born a boy, lived like a boy and died like a boy’), the merits of Thomas Hardy, modern, romantic and sentimental literature and even a topic Joyce eschewed, religion. Power’s recreation of his conversations with Joyce are almost Boswell-like in their idiosyncratic moments and literary style, no doubt due to Power scribbling down what Joyce said to him every evening once gettnig home to his artist’s garret.

    This is a book to go alongside Budgen’s own account of his frienship with Joyce and gives you a broader insight into Joyce as perceived by close friends in contrast to the distant, non-commital but polite evasiveness he often displayed when approached by strangers.” VINCENT VAN WYCK

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Weight 0.25 kg
Dimensions 136 × 215 mm
Publication Date

November 1999


Paperback, 128pp