Carl Jung’s Letter to James Joyce after reading Ulysses

Dear Sir,
Your Ulysses has presented the world such an upsetting psychological problem, that repeatedly I have been called in as a supposed authority on psychological matters.
Ulysses proved to be an exceedingly hard nut and it has forced my mind not only to most unusual efforts, but also to rather extravagant peregrinations (speaking from the standpoint of a scientist). Your book as a whole has given me no end of trouble and I was brooding over it for about three years until I succeeded to put myself into it. But I must tell you that I’m profoundly grateful to yourself as well as to your gigantic opus, because I learned a great deal from it. I shall probably never be quite sure whether I did enjoy it, because it meant too much grinding of nerves and of grey matter. I also don’t know whether you will enjoy what I have written about Ulysses because I couldn’t help telling the world how much I was bored, how I grumbled, how I cursed and how I admired. The 40 pages of non stop run at the end is a string of veritable psychological peaches. I suppose the devil’s grandmother knows so much about the real psychology of a woman, I didn’t.
Well I just try to recommend my little essay to you, as an amusing attempt of a perfect stranger that went astray in the labyrinth of your Ulysses and happened to get out of it again by sheer good luck. At all events you may gather from my article what Ulysses has done to a supposedly balanced psychologist.
With the expression of my deepest appreciation, I remain, dear Sir,
Yours faithfully,
C.G. Jung

Source: The Sheila Variations

Additional comments from The Sheila Variations:

Joyce was very proud of this letter, very proud that he had won Jung’s boredom and admiration, that he had made Jung curse him. Joyce read it out loud to a group of people, Nora (his wife) included. Nora’s comment was typically brief. Joyce finished reading the letter, and Nora turned to someone beside her and said flatly, “Jim knows nothing at all about women.

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One Response to Carl Jung’s Letter to James Joyce after reading Ulysses

  1. I love this letter. I, too, cursed, complained and ultimately thoroughly enjoyed reading
    Ulysses. I’m not sure, though, if it had not been compulsive reading for my degree would I have finished it. In the end I was so thankful and not a little proud that I did!

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