Joyce Essay

By Claire Wyatt

James Joyce is often referred to as the greatest writer of the twentieth century because of his innovative stream-of-consciousness style and the evolution of his characters’ thoughts throughout his works. Joyce gave depth to his characters by allowing them to think and grow, a style that deeply contrasted superficial characters from previous literature. Although Ulysses was published nearly nine decades ago, its use of realism is a mechanism that is truly timeless and will be completely necessary in the work of the greatest writer of the twenty-first century.

Today’s world moves faster than ever before; every second counts. Especially in the work-oriented United States, any time for left for leisure is valuable. Americans relax in front of high-definition televisions where they can witness the lives of others instead of living their own. Worldwide connections have never been as strong, but yet people are detached–deaths on the television are just numbers and the world is reduced to what happens inside the local suburb.

The person that will be remembered as the greatest writer of this century has the responsibility of provoking emotions again. Imagination is seeping out of our culture as individuality is replaced with generic lives, an epidemic that can only be cured through the revival of literature. Reading is a very personal, almost invasive process. Done in solitude, it is an art form that allows the viewer to become the artist–every reader will relate to a different experience, will seem his life in a different character, and illustrate a different world in his mind.

When I think about the next great writer, I can not help thinking of Chuck Palahniuk and his novel Fight Club. As a minimalist, he understands the use of straight fiction that can make a reader’s heart stop. By cutting out flowery language and limiting dialogue, he puts a focus on actions and allows the reader to carry the emotions. This transference of the reader from a mere spectator to actually becoming the protagonist is what writing is meant for.

Minimalist writing is the future of great literature. People do not want tedious descriptions of settings when they can turn on their television and see a clear image. Descriptions of flowers won’t change any lives. What will change lives is writing about what we struggle with everyday. As Palahniuk wrote in his novel, “We don't have a great war in our generation, or a great depression, but we do, we have a great war of the spirit.  We have a great revolution against the culture.  The great depression is our lives.” Fight Club explores the psychology of the common man, much like Stephen Dedalus in Ulysses. It is no coincidence that the theme of the common man is popular. The common men are the true backbone of their countries, but are often fated to live dull lives of workers. Palahniuk wrote, “We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact.”

In addition to being able to write page-turners for such an A.D.D. culture, the next great writer will have to address what role the common man plays. The writer will have to look into the heart and the psyche of the common man and find what he dreams of the most, what he is scared of, what he hates. But the true challenge arises when a bigger question must be answered–where is the glory, where is the “fanfare for the common man?” The goal of the writer will be to resurrect the common man from the backdrop of society. In a world of sports cars and iPods, it is the writer that can separate what is meaningful from what is not–truly, the fact from the fiction.

By Claire Wyatt
Darlington School
1014 Cave Spring Road
Rome, Georgia 30161