An understatement

James Joyce once met James George Frazer at the British Institute in Paris. Frazer was a Scottish anthropologist best known for The Golden Bough, a great survey of comparative mythology and religion. This subject interested Joyce too, but the conversation they had was, as far as I know, as brief, polite and inconsequential as Joyce’s infamous encounter with Proust.

“What name?” Frazer asked him.
“Joyce, James Joyce.”
“And what do you do?”
“I write.”

12 Responses to An understatement

  1. wisewebwoman says:

    I wonder who took the time to write down these immortal words?

  2. Stan says:

    WWW: In trying to be brief (for a change!), I neglected to provide a reference. It was Maria Jolas.

  3. wisewebwoman says:

    Reminds me of “Bond, James Bond”. Maybe Ian plagiarized. ;^)


  4. To be able to describe what you do with one verb, that’s admirable. What do you do, Stan?

  5. Stan says:

    Sean: !

    WWW: It reminded me of Bond too. The power of a catchphrase…

    PFW: I smile at your question :-)

  6. Haha how gloriously incosequential. THow about a series of them.

    Jean Cocteau: Would you pass the salt
    James Joyce: Certainly

    and so on…

  7. Fran says:

    When you read his books, I think it becomes completely clear why he kept things simple in his conversations …! Probably needed a break!

  8. Fran says:

    Forgot to say that my blog address has changed. The new link from my name should work.

  9. Stan says:

    Jams: Ha! A series is a good idea. Verified events could be mixed with imaginary ones, just for devilment. Speaking of which, your line by Cocteau reads like a code, but that’s probably just because it’s Cocteau.

    Fran: There might be something to that, though Joyce was not averse to rambling at length about subjects that held his attention. Otherwise Bruce Arnold’s book Conversations With James Joyce might have been a whole lot slimmer, and more like Jams’s proposed series. (Thanks for letting me know about your blog change, by the way — I’ve updated the address in my blogroll.)

  10. And very well done to you, Stan, for your listing in the blog awards – a very deserving nomination in a serious category.

  11. Stan says:

    Thank you very much, Mise.

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