Ulysses

f55e6d5e5c8e15b597a41355841444341587343Ulysses by James Joyce
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

The life of the everyman in a single day in Dublin is the basic premise of James Joyce’s Ulysses, yet this is an oversimplification of the much deeper work that if you are not careful can quickly spiral down into a black hole of fruitless guesswork and analysis of what you are reading.

Joyce’s groundbreaking work is a parallel to Homer’s The Odyssey though in a modernist style that was defined by Joyce in this novel. Though the primary character is Leonard Bloom, several other important secondary characters each take their turn in the spotlight but it is Bloom that the day revolves around. However any echoes of Homer are many times hidden behind Joyce verbosity and stream-of-conscious writing that at times makes sense and at times completely baffles you. Even with a little preparation the scale of what Joyce forces the reader to think about is overwhelming and frankly if you’re not careful, quickly derails your reading of the book until its better just to start skimming until the experience mercifully ends.

While my experience and opinion of this work might be lambasted by more literary intelligent reviewers, I would like to caution those casual readers like myself who think they might be ready to tackle this book. Read other modernist authors like Conrad, Kafka, Woolf, Lawrence, and Faulkner whose works before and after the publication of Ulysses share the same literary movement but are not it’s definitive work.

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3 thoughts on “Ulysses

  1. I have a love affair with Joyce’s Ulysses which I can’t really seem to get out of. But the biggest reason why I love it is because of the irreverent way I approached it I think. The way I saw it was that there are so many allusions and references to all sorts in there that there were bound to be a few that I understood. Also, that the beauty of the book and literature in general is that everyone will have a different interpretation of it, so if some editor says that the Circe chapter is about religion but someone else thought it was about death, each of those interpretations is valid, none of them wrong. I never really took the book seriously, and I cringe at the way some scholars gate keep the Joyce industry, especially Ulysses, because the book itself is ridiculous and fun! I love mocking Stephen and have soft spot for Bloom. To be fair, having read it a few times, the most fun part is actually writing what I think are references and allusions in the margins and have honestly never listened to the editors. I’m even thinking about finally starting my research book on Ulysses.

    I’m sorry to go on I must sound like such a Ulysses snob, but I could talk about it all day, like I said, I’m trapped with Ulysses 🙂

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