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James Joyce: a visionary wordsmith with weak eyes who discredited those arts that excited ‘kinetic’ emotions. This is a deliberately exaggerated, but not unfair, description of Joyce as a prime mover of literary modernism. So characterised, Joyce would seem little inclined to view cinema as a serious much less as a sister art from which literature might have something to learn. Yet the relations between Joyce and cinema, however irregular, were cordial and in one important instance contractual. In October of 1909, Joyce approached the four owners of two thriving cinema houses in Trieste with information to barter: the name of a city of 500,000 inhabitants that as yet had no movie theatre (JJ 300). The city, of course, was Dublin. The film exhibitors were intrigued and agreed to terms. Joyce left for Dublin on 18 October. By Monday 20 December 1909 the Volta, 45 Mary Street, was ready to project its first programme. There was nothing avant-gardist about this enterprise. The films shown at the Volta reflected the state of popular film culture of the time: French films in the tradition of the Lumière Brothers actualités or ‘actuality’ films, like La Pouponnière showing daily life in a Paris nursery; one-reel travelogues (A Tour through Italy, A Visit to Hamburg) and documentary adventures like Crocodile Hunting that brought viewers within close, but safe distance of predatory exploit; educational and occupational films that demonstrated homely lessons (How Soup Is Made) or, more awe-inspiring, the alchemical wonders of industrial capitalism (How Steel Is Made).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationJames Joyce in Context
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9780511576072
ISBN (Print)9780521886628
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities


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