A plastic palimpsest: Judge Woolsey’s judgement on Ulysses

James_Joyce_Time_magazineJoyce has attempted—it seems to me, with astonishing success—to show how the screen of consciousness with its ever-shifting kaleidoscopic impressions carries, as it were on , not only what is in the focus of each man’s observation of the actual things about him, but also in a penumbral zone residua of past impressions, some recent and some drawn up by association from the domain of the subconscious.

In may places it seems to me to be disgusting, but although it contains, as I have mentioned above, many words usually considered dirty, I have not found anything that I consider to be dirt for dirt’s sake. Each word of the book contributes like a bit of mosaic to the detail of the picture which Joyce is seeking to construct for his readers … when such a great artist in words, as Joyce undoubtedly is, seeks to draw a true picture of the lower middles class in a European city, ought it to be impossible for the American public legally to see that picture?

—Judge Woolsey, The United States of America v. One Book Called “Ulysses.”