After writing an essay in my freshman English lit class in which I discussed James Joyce’s Ulysses as the next logical step for narrative after Ford Maddox Ford’s The Good Soldier, my professor, who was also the head of the English department, had me speak to him after class not to congratulate me on an interesting premise or encourage me regarding a bold though perhaps failed attempt to create a coherent picture of the development of the English novel, but rather to accuse me of plagiarism. It wasn’t that he’d heard this idea before from some upperclassman or had read about it in some renowned scholar’s critical appraisal of Joyce but because he thought it was unlikely that a freshman like me would have already read Ulysses. I read it on my own in high school, I explained, and the idea to compare Ford Maddox Ford to Joyce was mine, I pleaded, and what, I asked was so unusual about a freshman having read books on his own? I had to summarize Ulysses on the spot, explain the parallels to the Odyssey, define interior monologue, stream-of-consciousness, and the glory of Molly Bloom’s soliloquy before he finally showed he believed this idea, whether brilliant or half-baked or half-assed, was mine with a reluctant, smirking curl of his lower lip. And I walked away, having learned that I had no future with the academy, that I’d never be sheltered by the ivied halls of learning, and that maybe I’d better just start watching my back, refining my steps, and reading between the lines before speaking to anyone in charge.
— Jose Padua writing for Vox Populi
Maggie, Julien, and Heather during a doctor’s appointment [photo credit: Jose Padua]