Will James Joyce be to the next two generations what Henry James, Nietzsche, Wells, Shaw, Mencken, Dreiser, and Conrad have been to the present generation? F. Scott Fitzgerald, the prophet and voice of the younger American smart set, says that while Conrad's Nostromo is the great novel of the past fifty years, Ulysses by James Joyce is the great novel of the future. In his list of “The Books I Have Enjoyed Most,” Scott Fitzgerald places A Par-trait of the Artist as a Young Man (Huebsch) as third from the top and avers that Joyce is to be “the most profound literary influence in the next fifty years.”
Whether the sons and daughters of the wild young things now who figure in Mr. Fitzgerald's brilliant pictures of the very present will actually read a great deal of Joyce we are left to guess, but the prediction which Mr. Fitzgerald makes of the intellectual temper of the new age may be a revelation to his many admirers. Fitzgerald stands today as a writer for and about the frivolous and semi-cynical. Samuel Butler, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Anatole France were the intellectual influences which molded Fitzgerald's mind. He says this in making up his list of books he enjoyed most. Ibsen and the Greek and Latin classics made Joyce, in a literary way, what he is. Is Joyce in turn to be the founder of a school of writers who will interpret the life of tomorrow with the same passionate naturalism, that amazing ability to depict “the stream of consciousness,” the Gargantuan satire and laughter, and that unsentimental lyric joy in the unreserved acceptance of life, which distinguish Joyce's works as unique in this seething era?
Published in Richmond Times-Dispatch newspaper (24 June 1923). This text scanned from F. Scott Fitzgerald on Authorship, ed. M. J. Bruccoli with J. S. Baughman (Columbia: U of South Carolina P, 1996).