Monday, November 05, 2007

Standing Up for Joyce

There's this woman in both of my classes this semester who drives me nuts. Whether it's just before class or during a break she spends her whole time complaining about or ridiculing everyone and everything in her life. Her professors aren't good teachers. Her classmates can't write well. Her coworkers aren't well read. And on and on.

Most of the people she talks about I don't know, but a few I do know. Up till now i've always kept my mouth shut. So what actually prompted me to speak up against her? Who was her target today? A close friend of mine? A professor I admire?


Her target today was James Joyce.

She's apparently taking a class outside the Library Science program on Joyce's Ulysses. She was talking about it offhandedly to the professor for my class tonight, that she didn't understand why it's considered such a high point in literature. She said she didn't like the style, didn't like the writing and she had a hard time believing that Joyce was friends with Hemingway when they were both in Paris.

"Well, they were both out-of-towners in the pretty snobby art world of Paris," I said. "They probably needed the comraderie. And I think they were both able to appreciate one another's writing, even if their styles are vastly different."

She just shrugged her shoulders, and everything probably would have been fine if I left it at that. But I opened my big mouth again and tripped over my own big fat tongue.

"But I guess I can understand your feelings because I don't really care for Hemingway much," I said.

Her face snapped into my direction. " don't like Hemingway?"

"No, not really," I said. "His characters have never seemed like people to me. They've always felt more like props for his ideas. Especially his women."

She then rattled off three or four stories to combat my opinion. I shrugged and said, "Sorry. I just don't like him."

I was very careful to stress that it was my opinion, that I didn't feel that people couldn't like him. But, whether it was my words or simply that I was contesting her own opinion, she took it personally. She glared at me the rest of the period and, after awhile, I started to feel guilty. I don't know why, I just did.

What's the point of all of this? I have no idea. I do wonder why, of all people, the person I stood up for was a dead Irish author.



Maktaaq said...

Actually, she has kind of annoyed me too, through the internet and across international borders.

Hebdomeros said...

That makes me feel a little better, knowing i'm not the only one lol