This article was originally published online, in slightly different form, in ANQ: A Quarterly Journal of Short Articles, Notes and Reviews 12/28/2020.
-- By Tom Phillips
Geography is destiny in two modern masterpieces – James Joyce’s Ulysses (1918) and Bernard Malamud’s A New Life (1961) – but these destinies point in opposite directions. Joyce’s Dublin faces East across the Irish Sea to England; Malamud’s fictional Marathon, Cascadia west over the mountains to the Pacific. Cascadia is green and fresh, the air clear, nature an “esthetic satisfaction” so overwhelming that art is superfluous. Dublin is “snotgreen”, reeking of dead men, dead dogs, poor old women, “general paralysis of the insane” all seen through Irish art, the “cracked lookingglass of a servant.”
|"Poldy" -- from Joyce's notes|