james joyce and the hotel porter

[Said Joyce:] ‘A German lady called to see me today. She is a writer and wanted me to give an opinion on her work, but she told me she had already shown it to the porter of the hotel where she stays. So I said to her: “What did your hotel porter think of your work?” She said: “He objected to a scene in my novel where my hero goes out into the forest, finds a locket of the girl he loves, picks it up and kisses it passionately.” “But,” I said, “that seems to me to be a very pleasing and touching incident. What did your hotel porter find wrong with it?” And then she tells me he said: “It’s all right for the hero to find the locket and to pick it up and kiss it, but before he kissed it you should have made him wipe the dirt off it with his coat sleeve.” ‘

I told her,’ said Joyce ‘(and I meant it too), to go back to that hotel porter and always to take his advice. “That man,” I said, “is a critical genius. There is nothing I can tell you that he can’t tell you.” ‘

Frank Budgen (1934)
via ragbag

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