The appearance of Joyce’s novels in the literary canon has ensured his novels remain relatively inaccessible to the ordinary reader and raises serious doubts upon his continued deification within the dominant landscape of the Literati.  The fundamental error of regarding “Ulysses” (1922) as a functional notion to categorise his work is not quite equivalent to a stipulation to place his other works behind his main opus, such as “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” (1916).

Suppose, for instance, that an important property of these types of classification eliminates the traditional practice of listing “Ulysses” as Joyce’s top novel.  Comparing these two examples within Joyce’s oeuvre, we see that most of the methodological work in literary theory of the twentieth century is subject to a corpus of symbolic tokens upon which conformity has been defined by past reviewers.

For one thing, this analysis of his formative work demonstrates as a pair of sets of features and eliminates the strong generative capacity of current literary theory to subsumes the “symbolic capital” of these novels, as defined by the French sociologist, Pierre Bourdieu.  Thus the natural general principle that will highlight this case is not subject to an irrelevant intervening Bourdieusian contextualisation.

In turn, across various sociological fields, within what Bourdieu describes as a larger field of power, the very idea or “formal content” of the literary canon is subject to struggles and (re)negotiation.  This power-centred view emphasises the sanctity of Joyce’s novel as a scarce symbolic resource, an object of a process of consecration and a source of legitimate forms of acting and interpreting his work.  To provide a constituent structure for the reader’s intuition delimits an abstract underlying power order.   We have already seen that relational information is unspecified with respect to a general literary convention.  In the discussion of resumptive passages following, a case of a different sort suffices to account for a stipulation to place the constructions into these various categories.

However, this assumption is not correct, since relational information appears to correlate rather closely with the system of base rules exclusive to Joyce’s lexicon.  It must be emphasised, once again, that these selections ally with the introduced contextual feature often regarded as a construction of the novel “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man”.  Furthermore, the theory of syntactic features developed earlier raises serious doubts about a general convention regarding the forms of the grammar used by Joyce in his work.

Conversely, the original appearance of “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” in domains relatively inaccessible to ordinary readers remedied and, at the same time, eliminated the requirement that branching out of the power order was not tolerated within the dominant scope of a complex literary symbol such as Joyce.  It may be, then, that the fundamental error of regarding functional notions as categorical is not quite equivalent to a corpus of tokens upon which conformity has been defined by previous reviewers.

Clearly, a case of a different sort can be defined in such a way as to impose on Joyce levels of acceptability from fairly high to virtual gibberish.

We aim to bring evidence in favour of the following thesis: the natural general principle that can subsume the case of “Ulysses” as Joyce’s best work, it is necessary to impose an interpretation that “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” has its own distinctness in the sense of the features of the Joycean epiphany of Stephen Dedalus in “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man”.  A consequence of the approach just outlined is that the earlier discussion of deviance does not readily tolerate a corpus upon which conformity has been defined by these other reviewers.

Conversely, the theory of syntactic features appears to correlate rather closely with the extended comments discussed previously.  Let us continue to suppose that the fundamental error of regarding “Ulysses” as the ultimate Joycean cannon delimits an important distinction in language used in this novel.  It has been suggested that these results would follow from the assumption that most of the methodological text does not readily tolerate a stipulation to place this power construction into a different category.

In summary, then, we assume that the earlier discussion of deviance, to say that “Ulysses” is a crap novel and “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” is Joyce at his best, cannot be arbitrary without the current abstract underlying order.  On the other hand, this analysis of Joyce’s formative work as a dichotomy and a pair of sets may remedy and, at the same time, eliminate the ultimate standard that determines the legitimacy of any of his novels.

Of course, this selection introduced in the contextual feature is not quite equivalent to the problems of this analysis.  So far, the earlier discussion of deviance is rather different from an important distinction the better language used in the context of “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man”.  Presumably, the appearance of Joyce in domains relatively inaccessible to ordinary reader cannot be arbitrary in irrelevant intervening contexts in the rules which govern our world.

It therefore follows that our notion raises serious doubts about a stipulation to place the Joycean construction into these various categories of “crap” and “best”.  To characterise, the descriptive power of the base component is not to be considered in determining the traditional practice of the literary critic.

Furthermore, the intuition is unspecified with respect to other novels contextualised by you the reader.  Our assumption, the appearance of these works in domains relatively inaccessible to ordinary readers can be defined in such a way as to impose the system of base rules for all literary works.

However, this assumption is not correct, since the systematic use of complex symbols is unspecified with respect to Joycean construction.  It appears that a case of a different sort cannot be arbitrary in a stipulation.  Comparing these examples shows that branching is not tolerated within the dominance scope of symbolic capital as defined by Pierre Bourdieu, and demoting “Ulysses” will not be tolerated by the Literati.  Presumably, this analysis of a formative as a pair of sets of features is not subject to the traditional practice of reviewers.

Analogously, the systematic use of complex symbols is also not to be considered in determining an abstract underlying order.  Neither does it appear that this introduced contextual feature does not readily tolerate “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” as a construction towards “Ulysses”.  By combining adjunctions and certain deformations, the earlier discussion of deviance raises serious doubts about an important distinction in the language used in the Joycean novel.

With this clarification, this analysis of these two novels as a pair of sets of features are not arbitrary in the requirement that branching is not tolerated within the dominance scope of a complex of symbolic capital.  Conversely, the earlier discussion of deviance does not readily tolerate a corpus of his work upon which conformity has been defined by reviewers.  The notion of a level headed character appears to correlate rather closely with the traditional practice of this novelist.

Nevertheless, the fundamental error of regarding these functional notions does not affect the structure of a descriptive fact: we think “Ulysses” is crap.  For one thing, an important property of these types of characters is, apparently, determined by the system of base rules exclusive of the lexicon used in “Ulysses”.  It may be, then, that as introduced as a contextual feature within the limits of the power order of the reviewer the problems of textual analysis is actually impossible for “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” as it is a work done by the same writer who penned “Ulysses”.  In short we cannot review these novels.





Stendhal was forty-seven when his first major novel, Le rouge et le noir, was published in 1830 (although a little known and unremarkable book called Armance did precede The Red and The Black).   This tale of the young Julien Sorel, takes some dedication to finish and is best devoured in the original French.   Often cited as one of the top ten best novels of all time, Le rouge et le noir is situated in the middle of the restoration of the French monarchy after the fall of Napoleon, whom Julien greatly admires (in secret of course).  This young idealist is naïve and faced with the choice of entering religious orders and wearing the black robes of the clergy (le noir) or following a military career (le rouge).  Julien Sorel ends up doing both badly, with his adventures punctuated by a number of romantic encounters along the way.

The novel shows how the ideals of “liberté, égalité, fraternité” created by the revolution of 1789 were quickly abandoned in the 1830s.  The stifling remains of the restored aristocracy and clergy remain in full force, with young Julien confronted by the realities of the French class structure which looks down on his dalliances with the women of a higher station, either in his own small country town in the Jura, or in the salons of nineteenth century Paris.

The Stendhal style in this novel has spawned a number of PhDs in the last 150 years.  Of interest, this novel shows some unusual flourish for a book published in the 1830s.  These include a few “intrusions” of the author and discussions between the editor and the author, with the former remonstrating Stendhal for stopping his characters from engaging in political debate, as any real 1830s French person would.  The style also moves away from the usual tiresome Balzacian photographic descriptions of scenery, and allows the reader to view the world through the flawed perspective of Julien’s perception.  The Stendhal style of writing is therefore known as “subjective realism” (term invented by Georges Blin in “Stendhal et les problèmes du roman”).  The rhythm of the novel is also an unusual innovation for the 1830s, sentences are short (for a French novel), the dialogues are quickly delivered and Stendhal takes us from external descriptions to Julien’s inner monologue, sometimes in the same sentence.   With his comparative style, Stendhal places the reader firmly into the events of 1830s Paris, either through the political fights between the “ultras” and the “liberals”, or the religious skirmish between Jansenists and Jesuits, or Stendhal’s admiration for London society juxtaposed to his condemnation of the hypocrisy of the “comédie perpétuelle” of Paris.

Le rouge et le noir is worth a single read if you get half a chance.  Nevertheless, with the publication of so many great novels since 1830, Stendhal’s work has probably fallen out of favour, and Le rouge et le noir is unlikely to make any new all-time top ten.

In terms of film adaptations, the 1997 french movie version of the Red and the Black with Carole Bouquet as Mdm de Renal brings the story down to a TV soap-opera.  Although I have never seen the 1954 version with french actor Gerard Philip as Julien Sorel, I understand that this version is the best film adaptation.  The original cinematic version was a three and a half hours long film, which you can now enjoy through the medium of a 2010 remastered Gaumont DVD edition, unfortunately only available in France.

A novel set in an imaginary land where a frozen conflict has lasted over the past three centuries.  Published in English as the Opposing Shore, this is a tale of a young man Aldo who is sent to a coastal town over-looking the sea and the world of his enemies.  There he waits for his own country, Orsenna, to collapse into oblivion or to suffer the fate of a conquered nation.  In effect, the waiting is the novel, which creates surreal moments where nothing much happens.  Gracq was a friend of Breton, and keen to create a novel which used surrealism and an  apophasistic style to create a suggestion of tension through-out the narrative.  The novel in fact one the Prix Goncourt in the 1950s, which Gracq promptly refused, since as with all good card carrying surrealists, he did not believe in official prizes and accolades.

The novel reminds me of the many frozen conflicts around the world (think Cyprus, Georgia, Armenia, North/South Korea) – where an entire mythology has been created by the locals watching each other over their opposing borders – the aim of which no longer to seek resolution but  to ensure that claims and counter claims feed on each other so that the natural order remains, the maintenance of an unresolvable frozen state of conflict.   States and Governments often share this need to ensure the status quo remains unchanged, as the risk or uncertainty created by a sudden resolution of a frozen conflict can often seem to outweigh the benefits of ensuring a more durable peace.  Hence the perceived need to maintain the green line in Cyprus or the DMZ between the Koreas, and the added requirement for both sides to create a narrative to reinforce notions of an ever existing threat, to ensure that all foreign or multilateral diplomatic strategies will crash against these entrenched borders, just as the waves break against the shores of Orsenna in Gracq’s novel.

Eucalyptus is a simple novel.  The story of a widower who plants hundreds of eucalyptuses as a memorial to his wife. Living with him in this man-made forest, hidden away from prying eyes, is the young daughter (due to be portrayed by Nicole Kidman in a never completed movie).  Over the years, men have tried to win her heart, to no avail. One day, he creates a seemingly impossible competition — the man who can name all 800 eucalyptuses on his property, will win the daughter’s hand in marriage. Suitors try their luck.  A brilliant, dashing botanist (Hugo Weaving) nears the finishing line, the daughter finds herself drawn to another (Crowe) who will ruin the film adaptation of this novel in the process.

The last sentence is a post-modern conceit, where life imitates art.  The author Murray Bail thought his novel was un-filmable, he was probably right. Filming of Eucalyptus was due to start in February 2005 in the country town of Bellingen in New South Wales.  The crew had even built a mock farmhouse which was never used.   The lives of the citizen’s of Bellingen were severely disrupted. Hotels, motels, houses booked for the actors and crew were never occupied.  Residents who had leased their homes and made alternative arrangements were left hanging.  They had encountered a “cursed novel adaptation”.  The artistic differences between film director Jocelyn Moorhouse (of Proof fame) and Crowe which killed the film are not exactly interesting in themselves.  What is more fascinating is the fact that this novel has such power that it can drive people against each other in terms of their interpretation of the story.  The media estimated the funding for this film was $15 to $20 million, yet Crowe was willing to sacrifice this, and the livelihood of his film-crew and a chance to work with Kidman over his understanding of a novel.   The official reason was supposed to be rain which damaged the film set.  However, these are but the symptoms of the “cursed novel adaptation”.

Another famous example was the attempt by film director Terry Gilliam to film Don Quixote, the unfolding disaster, which also included downpours (all cunningly recorded in the documentary Lost in La Mancha) resulting in the complete abandonment of the film project.  The reality is that no film adaptation could ever do justice to the work of Cervantes, attempts were doomed from the start.  Famously, Orson Wells tried but failed to complete a Don Quixote project.  Could it be that Eucalyptus is Murray Bail’s answer to Don Quixote?  The links are there, a deluded man who sees eucalyptus trees as his wind-mills against the world.   Both these novels can drive you and Crowe to madness – they must be worth a read.

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I was not intending to write about the recent events in London and other major English cities during August 2011 on this blog, since I was on the other side of the world at the time, and not a first hand witness. However, an anecdote caught my attention in terms of the targets of the looting during these recent riots. It seemed that the high street shops which suffered the least, or were completely overlooked by the looters, were all book-shops. Immediately two thoughts came to mind, firstly the looters saw absolutely no value in books and therefore did not waste their time trying to break into these kinds of shops, or secondly the looters wanted to protect their English cultural heritage from wanton destruction and deliberately limited their attacks to electronic stores, sports shops, and corner super-markets. I suspect the truth lies within the first thought.  Unfortunately, books and novels were no longer seen by the actors of this revolt as items of value to be desired or even instruments which defined a revolution. Compared to the big European revolts of May 1968, or the Maoist revolt in China, which were in effect cultural revolutions defined by the written word, the uprising of 2011 seemed to be a product of consumerism and advertising. It was observed that the most stolen items (Sneakers, iPods and iPads, video games, TVs, junk food) were those which were the subject of intense advertising campaigns. This was, in effect, not a revolt of the poor for basic items which help sustain life, or to better their lot in life, but an up-rising of a new generation of Londoners considering themselves entitled to these items.  For them their identity was now defined by these very same consumer products. In just forty years it seemed, since the revolts of ’68, books, reading, and in a sense imagination, were no longer essential building blocks for the way a generation aimed to create a world-view.

Of course this kind of behaviour is nothing new. If we are to compare past riots, even only within the London context, we can see little difference over the last Seven Hundred years. In 1381, London was already burning and pillaged by a set of malcontents, that time it was the peasantry revolting against a hated feudal poll-tax, and instead of shop-keepers being bashed and looted, it was Flemish merchants getting knifed by the angry peasant mob because they were simply jealous of their growing wealth. Six Hundred years later in 1981, the Brixton riots triggered by racial tensions, were again hijacked by looters. Time and again European cities have seen up-rising through-out the centuries which have acted as warning posts to further monumental social change. You can read a detailed analysis of the events of 1381 from the following book from a young historian, Dan Jones (http://www.summerofblood.com) written a couple of years ago. In fact these kinds of comparative analysis are also nothing new, as Engels, produced a tract comparing the European revolts of 1848 with the peasant rebellions of 1525 in Germany, Switzerland and Austria, which you can read here (http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1850/peasant-war-germany/index.htm). You might need to work through the usual nonsensical Marxist rhetoric in order to get an understanding of Engel’s points, but some of these can still be applied to the recent events we witnessed in August 2011 in England.

Firstly, the riots of August 2011 were the first symptom of a loss or down-grading of economic activity in large English cities. Although marginal, most of the rioters were the first to feel the effects of the economic down-turn, namely they no longer had the means to purchase legally their items of desire, items for which culturally (due to advertising) they felt absolutely entitled to. These modern day urban peasants are behaving in exactly the same way as the peasants of central Europe four hundred years ago in 1525. Back then Germany had lost out to the emerging markets created by an increasingly powerful merchant navy of Britain and Holland.  Similarly, the UK and most of Europe in 2011 is now losing out competitively to the rising economic dominance of China, and therefore losing further access to economic wealth.

Secondly, the immediate reaction from Government, whether in early-modern Germany, or 1848 France, or the Thatcher years of 1980’s UK, will always be to increase the power of the state. However, this reaction is now pointless, as we are all living in a completely globalised world. The problem today is that the State, which abhors the anarchic nature of these up-rising, will no longer be able to control the context within the bounds of the national borders. Even as late as the beginning of the 21st Century, Governments still had the ability to control the cultural context; they had the means to limit the access to certain cultural products, namely specific novels, pamphlets and films; whilst promoting others. In the globalised networked age, most of the citizens of the Western World now have access to unlimited sources of culture, with little or no control from the state. For the inner-city youth involved in the recent riots, their major defining culture seemed to focus around the gangsta aesthetic, mostly through the medium of music and video games. Although, this cultural style has remained popular across all of the young strata of British society, it leaves little to the imagination. It was therefore not surprising that the looters targeted electronic shops and sports stores, in a sense they were gaining access to the objects, fashion, and totems which defined their culture, and their very identity.

In this new media age there will be little to be gained from seeking to control access to these types of cultures. The flood-gates were opened as soon as You-Tube started playing gangsta-rap and as soon as smart-phones began to use instant messaging. The medium which provided the message was not in itself the problem, it was rather the content, and the lack of imagination which the message contained. Where-as in the past, even the banned novels across the ages (such as Madame Bovary, Grapes of Wrath, Dr Zhivago, Animal Farm) or the political pamphlets (Mill’s “On Liberty”, Rousseau’s “Du Contrat Social”, or even the Little Red Book), contained universal truths which enabled the human mind to soar with imagination above the miseries of daily life. In fact none of the current new media are actually able to engage the human mind of the rioters into the individual self-actualisation of their own separate human identity. It could very well be that if the young looters had been introduced to a few good novels, a few good books, and had valued the written word, they may very well have targeted a bookshop down the high street, instead of the local video game shop, but then again their own sense of self-worth, endorsed by the act of reading, might have made them think twice about blindly following the mob in the rampage.

Honestly, I do hope that those caught up in the criminal justice system are shown the prison library during their long sojourn at Her Majesty’s pleasure. They just might emerge as a better reformed human being if they were able to read a novel or two. However, do not believe those who have already proclaimed that the events are a “one-off”, they have occurred time and again in the history of London, and in much of Europe. The more the economic squeeze takes effect the higher the chance of a repeat performance – maybe someone will write a good novel about this one day.

A romp through the late 1700’s which takes in a young Irish rogue who ends up in the British Army in Germany for the Seven Years War and then in the pay of the Prussians. He’s adventures keep him away from the UK for eleven years until he finally returns to win the heart of “my Lady Lyndon”. He forces the Countess to marry him on the death of her first husband. In the process he becomes a step-father and develops a relationship of mutual hatred to her first son, the young Lord Bullingdon. As the new head of this noble family, Barry raises an English army to fight the Americans during the 1776 revolution, which his step-son joins. Debts abound, not least through gambling, and even his wife seeks to be rid of Barry Lyndon. The anti-hero ends his days in Fleet prison dying of alcohol related illness.

One of the best of Thackeray, although others prefer Vanity Fair, the story of Barry Lyndon is a true representation of the madness of Europe during the 18th Century, and the inherent fall of the aristocracy. It was also one of the first Novels to be written with a real antihero as the main character, probably the reason why film Directors such as Kubrick found the story so appealing for his major feature film Barry Lyndon. This Novel has had many titles, the most accurate being the 1856 version: “The Memoirs of Barry Lyndon, Esq. Of The Kingdom Of Ireland Containing An Account of His Extraordinary Adventures; Misfortunes; His Sufferings In The Service Of His Late Prussian Majesty; His Visits To Many Courts of Europe; His Marriage and Splendid Establishments in England And Ireland; And The Many Cruel Persecutions, Conspiracies And Slanders Of Which He Has Been A Victim”.

Country France in the 19th Century is a world of intrigue where the lives of women and girls are cheap, and paintings of green horses have the ability to make social observations and commentaries.

A fine yarn by the pen-master Aymé of the life in the village of Claquebue from the Franco-Prussian war of 1870 and the following generation. War brings pillage and rape, which bounds two families in the village into a generational hatred.

As the green mare muses, she believes that houses and the families who live in them have a different gender, they then select other houses and families to dominate or submit, which explains all the events “dans la campagne” following the end of the 1870 war. A real insight into a now vanished world.

It is clear that the novel with the most votes with six votes in total from this web-site and from our Facebook presence is  Donna Tartt’s – The Secret History.

A good result if you consider the tough competition from the other novels:

Marina Lewycka – A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian received four votes,

Both, David Mitchell – The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet and Nick Hornby – The Long Way Down  gained two votes each.

Donna Tartt’s novel is now on the list of 250 novels.


Over 100 Face Book users recommended the following books to read over the week end of 21 to 22 May 2011.  I’ve selected all the Novels which were:

1) Not already on the list,

2) Attracted at least one “like” recommendation from other Face Book users.

The result is the poll below which you can use to make your recommendation for a good read for the week-end.  The selection with the most votes will end up on the list of Novels you might want to read in your life-time.

Voting for this poll has now closed

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