In a Nutshell: Dickens vs. Joyce

Presented without comment, because it's eloquent and right.
If, in real life, we met Mr Micawber in a dark room, we would know it was Mr Micawber from his peculiar tropes; Bloom in similar circumstances we would not know. Only if we were granted the power to enter the minds of fictional characters, in some literary man's heaven where they had become as real as the blessed saints: would we know we were savouring essential Bloom. Indeed, It is difficult to imagine any of Dickens's characters. as possessing minds as opposed to pieces of simple psychological clockwork: Bloom has little other than that endless inner flow.
--from Anthony Burgess, Joysprick: An Introduction to the Language of James Joyce


  1. I think that if I heard Mr. Bloom speak in a dark room I would probably recognize him, at least after a bit. I feel like I know his voice inside and out, which is weird given how little of his dialogue Joyce actually gives us.
    But I think I agree with the quote at least a little bit. Dickens's characters are more immediately recognizable, possibly because they are more simple. They are defined by a few characteristics, which makes them easy to remember and to identify.

    1. You know, if Bloom had no spoken lines in the book, I would have agreed. Because I, too, feel like I know his inner voice and at times that I know what he would say. But thinking about the times he does speak, I'm not so sure anymore. Because, looking at language alone, there is little there that points directly to him and that would continue to be relevant if you remove the context (the themes he's likely to talk about in the book, the way in which the other characters talk, his comparative lack of idioms etc). I'd never tell someone that they sound just like Leopold Bloom (which can be an equivalent for this blind test) based on what Bloom actually says (I might if they start comparing their genitals to flowers, though :) Still, I might be wrong.