“Ulysses” by James Joyce
Finished reading on April 22nd, 2015
I’ve read Ulysses, I feel like I should be able to say something profound, yet I’ve never been bothered more by the lack of logic than I was when reading this book.
Honestly it was a bumpy ride reading Ulysses in 8 days. I only really started enjoying it when a colleague asked whether I was enjoying the book I’m reading and I said “no” – after that it all got better.
I think I feel slightly angry at the book – I’ve loved reading Joyce’s shorter works, but this one left me confused and baffled and thinking that I might actually prefer to read a quantum mechanics textbook rather than delve into such a literary work next time. Though I think maybe that’s not a good idea as maybe that’s exactly what it’s about – it’s so different from our everyday experience that you have to reset your mind or die trying to adapt to a novel where one moment a character is forced to wear womens’ clothes at a brothel and the next they’re in a courtroom and then they become a mayor…
There certainly were enjoyable parts, but it’s mostly all way too difficult – as soon as you get used to it you’ll have to face fifty pages of stream-of-consciousness writing without any punctuation marks!
But then in the end it’s all quite sad, especially when you realize it’s been a week from when you started reading it, and it’s still the same day in the book…
I liked how Joyce mentions the night sky – I often wonder whether regular people who have no work-related reason to look at the night sky and know what’s there, whether they even notice it – do they see the planets, do they know that you can see planets and what about constellations? At least Joyce seems to have noticed. So that was good.
The important part is – I read it, and now I know it’s not made-up words throughout, only in some parts. In other parts it’s as if it were a (hideously long) play where there are new characters coming to the stage every five minutes and they’re not even doing the same play!
It’s interesting, but with one reading I wouldn’t even try to figure this one out even just a tiny little bit.
I’m hoping that reading “Ulysses” will make me value more writers whose works aren’t from an alien world in a parallel universe.