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Many of the earliest readers of Ulysses found themselves stymied by Joyce's experiments with form. For example, in a largely positive review, Holbrook Jackson groused that ‘the greatest affront of all is the arrangement of the book, Ulysses is a chaos’. In order to counter such claims, Valéry Larbaud took some effort to emphasise the book's overall structure in his introductory talk at Adrienne Monnier's Maison des Amis des Livres in December 1921 (subsequently published in the first issue of The Criterion). Larbaud stressed that the book was not a chaos and had a structure, and that this structure, registered on the schema Joyce had used while composing it, informed the meanings of the book at the smallest level.
We begin to discover and to anticipate symbols, a design, a plan in what appeared to us at first a brilliant but confused mass of notations, phrases, data, profound thoughts, fantasticalities, splendid images, absurdities, comic or dramatic situations; and we realise that we are before a much more complicated book than we had supposed, that everything which appeared arbitrary and sometimes extravagant is really deliberate and premeditated; in short, that we are before a book which has a key.
The structuring scheme for Ulysses thus explains its welter of images and symbols and so forth and, in so doing, enriches the experience of the text.
Kidoosh! Of their fear they broke, they ate wind, they fled; where they ate there they fled; of their fear they fled, they broke away. Go to, let us extol Azrael with our harks, by our brews, on our jambses, in his gaits. To Mezouzalem with the Dephilim, didits dinkun's dud? Yip! Yup! Yarrah! And let Nek Nekulon extol Mak Makal and let him say unto him: Immi ammi Semmi. And shall not Babel be with Lebab? And he war. And he shall open his mouth and answer: I hear, O Ismael, how they laud is only as my loud is one. If Nekulon shall be havonfalled surely Makal haven hevens. Go to, let us extell Makal, yea, let us exceedingly extell. Though you have lien amung your posspots my excellency is over Ismael. Great is him whom is over Ismael and he shall mekanek of Mak Nakulon. And he deed.
Jacques Derrida's abbreviated essay on Finnegans Wake, ‘Deux mots pour Joyce’, has undergone a most peculiar reception: detractors and admirers alike claim that the essay has more to do with Derrida's project than with a cogent reading of the Babel passage that closes FW Ⅱ.1. Such a claim is not immediately surprising considering Derrida's typically circumlocutory style.
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