James Joyce's "The Ulysses" and T.S. Eliot's "The Wasteland" appeared in 1922, shaking English literature's foundations.
This year also marks the 100th anniversary of the English publication of Marcel Proust's "Swann's Way," the first volume of his monumental "In Search of Lost Time." The second volume of the novel was first published in France in 1922, with others to follow.
E.E. Cummings' "The Enormous Room," F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Beautiful and the Damned" and "Tales of the Jazz Age," Herman Hesse's "Siddhartha," Virginia Woolf's "Jacob's Room" and Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus were also published in 1922.
The police charged Joyce's stream-of-consciousness epic with obscenity soon after its publication by Sylvia Beach's Paris bookstore Shakespeare and Co. Legal battles over the book raged for years until a judicial ruling in favor of imaginative freedom.
Eliot's "The Wasteland" expresses European culture's exhaustion after World War I. But the poem also pulses with a vitality of language comparable to Joyce's. Jeremy Irons' recording of "The Wasteland" several years ago brings out its full power.
Irish author Anne Enright in the current New York Review of Books discusses her deep attachment to Joyce's work. A longtime resident of Dublin, Enright uncovers Joyce's local references, including tracking down the real people Joyce mentioned in the book, and where they lived. She says Joyce makes his readers co-authors, and that the book rewards lifelong reading.
Like Shakespeare, Dante, Proust and Chaucer, Joyce expresses the soul of his native country. Eliot's "The Wasteland" defines a historical and cultural era. Yet, both works remain fresh and new.