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The insufferable James Joyce – 1924

Advocate Melbourne 2nd October, 1924 p.20 (abridged)

James Joyce Photo: Alex Ehrenzweig 1915 Wikimedia Commons

James Joyce
Photo: Alex Ehrenzweig 1915
Wikimedia Commons

In a letter from our London correspondent, which appears in this issue, reference is made to a couple of plays which pretend to treat certain phases of Irish character. These plays bring into being a new “stage Irishman.” This mythical “gentleman” is far worse than the old “stage Irishman,” with his impossible simian countenance, his red nose, his “begobs” and “begorras” and his made-to-order jokes. The latter, being however absurd and ridiculous a mis-creation, was at any rate “clean” in his patter and in his characterisation. Not so the new “stage Irishman,” who is a repulsive and brutal type, a ruffian and a disgrace. And the worst of it is that he was created first by Irishmen.

Synge, for all his wonderful manner of making a new Kiltartan out of phrases made many of his characters outrageous. His own pessimism and irreligious characteristics are too often found in those characters.
Brinsley MacNamara and the insufferable James Joyce have, each in his own way, made Irish character repulsive and disgusting. We can hardly blame those responsible for the occasional appearance of the old stage Irishman – as the “Herald” in the case of a recent cartoon – when Irishmen themselves are found creating and exploiting that baseless monstrosity, the new and the worse, stage Irishman.

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