No mistakes

Two sentences in Scylla and Charybdis are frequently quoted and no less frequently misunderstood. In the library John Eglinton suggests that Shakespeare's marriage to Anne Hathaway was a "mistake," one that the playwright "got out of" as quickly as he could. "— Bosh! Stephen said rudely. A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery." Readers who attend to the context here will see that Stephen is not saying that Shakespeare (or, by implication, Joyce) writes infallibly. He is arguing only that a great artist can make art out of anything in his life, for example a bad marriage.

John Hunt 2022

2011 photograph by Tony Hisgett of the farmhouse in Shottery, Warwickshire where Anne Hathaway was raised. Source: Wikimedia Commons.