The fist number of L. refer to the standard CtP edition published in 1987. The following number shows correspondence between letters in the new 2010 edition. Note that on this website CtP is available only 1987 edition with minor additions.

[L. 96 | 103] 19 May 1964

Thank you for sending Dubliners. Though the actual content is slight, the writing is masterly, and one is left with a feeling of despair that life should be so completely futile. Life is like this, and there is nothing else to be expected from it. The final pages of the last story ('The Dead') are a little sentimental, and we have the impression that Joyce is saying that life is worth living provided only we have some romantic episode in our past. But I find this a blemish; and in Ulysses Joyce is quite merciless—there is no loophole at all for hope.

The German student's letter can, I think, be taken as a sign that people in Germany are at least prepared to read the Notes, whether or not they agree with them; and this is more than can be said for the English (Mrs. Quittner seems to be a startling exception). The copy of Mind (the principal English philosophical review) shows quite clearly that the Notes will be of no interest whatsoever to current professional English philosophy. This is all rather as I had anticipated.

I am not a great reader of poetry—I prefer ideas to images—but the books that I have been recently sent on mystical Christian poets and Mahāyāna Buddhism are of interest as entirely confirming the view that I have expressed in the Notes (Preface (m)). Though I am not an artist, I occupy the corresponding position as a producer of culture—in this case of, shall we say, Buddhist thought—as opposed to that of a diffusionist of culture; and it is true to say of me—quoting Palinurus quoting Flaubert—that 'a man who has set himself up as an artist [for which read bhikkhu] no longer has the right to live like other people'. This statement is closely paralleled in the Suttas: 'One who has gone forth should frequently reflect that he must behave differently (scil. from householders)' (A. X,48: v,87-8). The pure culture-diffusionist is obliged to regard all culture as good per se; but the solitary artist (or monk) will discriminate ruthlessly. There is no-one I abhor more than the man who says 'all religions are the same'.

I was glad to hear that you managed to write something about Point Counter Point—the fact that it turned out to be nonsense is of no significance at all. It is absolutely essential, if one is going to learn anything in this life that is worth learning, not to be afraid to make a fool of oneself. The real fool is the man who has never discovered his foolishness—or rather, the man who is afraid of discovering his foolishness.