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(22 Posts)
roseability Wed 27-Aug-08 21:55:42

Anyone read/attempting to read James Joyce's Ulyssess

I am trying to read it and although the language is beautiful and poetic, it is hard going!

Aiming to read the so called classics before DS stops napping and any more come along!

If I can find another mnetter to share ideas about this novel would be great

AbbeyA Wed 27-Aug-08 22:07:56

It is a book that I couldn't cope with. I might try again one day.

roseability Wed 27-Aug-08 22:18:47

I will probably give up!

I really love the language reading it like a poem but following plot, characters and symbolic meaning needs the aid of a study guide and even then I get lost!

chipmonkey Wed 27-Aug-08 22:57:58

roseability, don't give up! Although I do have to say, that having a small baby/child is not conducive to reading Joyce! How far have you got?

Lilymaid Wed 27-Aug-08 23:00:14

A map of Dublin might also help. I couldn't manage Dubliners in nice small chunks, so will have to pass on the great work.

chipmonkey Wed 27-Aug-08 23:09:10

Every June in Dublin there is a Bloomsday to celebrate Joyce and they follow the paths of Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus. I always say one day I'll do it but never have. It would be a good thing to do before reading the book, I would think. Years ago there was a restaurant called Harrisons on Westmoreland St, which was mentioned in the book. Dh and I got engaged there but the restaurant is gone now.sad

IorekByrnison Wed 27-Aug-08 23:55:45

I loved it (although was some years ago and pre-children that I last read it). Think the trick is to just read it literally as stuff that happens to this guy over the course of his day, rather than trying to link it all to the Odyssey on first reading.

Think there was a good audio book of this published a few years ago - seem to remember it was Bishop Brennen out of Father Ted reading it. Maybe that would be a good way to go. Then things like the "four word wave speech" make immediate sense rather than looking like incomprehensible rubbish on the page.

Have you read Dubliners and Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man?

jette Thu 28-Aug-08 11:12:29

Definitely try to get the audiobook if you're feeling stuck - its not cheating!

roseability Thu 28-Aug-08 13:24:35

I am about 200 pages in, just beginning chapter 8 The Lestrygonians.

I have a study guide but it isn't great. I don't want to give up. Small chunks of the literature stand out and really inspire me. Certain themes are beautifully portrayed, particularly motherhood.

But I just wish I could follow the basic plot more easily. I am finding it a bit easier now that I am more used to the 'stream of consciousness' style but I sometimes think I know what is going on, read the study guide and realise I have missed vital pieces of information!

I could do with more knowledge about Dublin and Irish history.

roseability Thu 28-Aug-08 13:28:14

Iorek - no I haven't read Joyce's other works.

I am more of a Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky fan and have more knowledge about Russia than Dublin (no disrespect to Dublin, I would love to visit one day). But I don't want to go to my death bed having not attempted to read the great man's works.

I will stick at it (and by the audio book!)

IorekByrnison Thu 28-Aug-08 13:50:24

I would just read it through the first time and worry about Irish history and classical allusions afterwards. I find you always miss things on the first reading of anything, and with a book as densely layered as Ulysses it's inevitable.

Would really recommend A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Much shorter and much more straightforward in structure. Stephen Dedalus is the protagonist, and it covers his struggles with religion and art from infancy more or less up to the point where he first appears in Ulysses.

Dubliners is a group of short stories and equally brilliant. The last story, The Dead is particularly great. There is a fantastic film of it too made by John Huston.

chipmonkey Thu 28-Aug-08 14:42:28

I have read Ulysses 3 times and still felt the third time that I "got" things that I had missed the first two times. And I imagine that if I were reading it for the 10th time, it would be the same.
Now Finnegan's Wake! That had me flummoxed by page 2! I really must attempt it again, with a companion book if possible. It's the only book that has ever defeated me and I sooooo hate to be beaten by a book!

bundle Thu 28-Aug-08 14:43:20

gave up too

one tip: lecturer at uni said you could start/finish anywhere...hmm

jamescagney Thu 28-Aug-08 14:45:57

I love it, don't try and make sense of it roseability.
I savour it for the language and innovation. As it is written in a stream of consciousness way, read it just for the flow (initially at least!)
When (if?) you reread it, you'll be able to see the innovations and links. Don't try too hard...

wessexgirl Thu 28-Aug-08 14:50:24

I agree with Iorek - I read Portrait of the Artist first (as an A-level text), and it was much easier to approach Ulysses as a kind of extended, broadened 'sequel', already knowing a fair bit about the historical/political context and some of the characters.

I'd put Ulysses aside and read Portrait/Dubliners first, honestly. I love Ulysses, but I would never recommend it as an 'introduction' to Joyce smile.

Elasticwoman Thu 28-Aug-08 20:24:26

Helps to know something about the R C religion. Ch 1 is supposed to resemble the Introit at the beginning of the Mass.

FlossCampi Fri 29-Aug-08 22:07:10

I am soooooo happy to find some people here that love Ulysses and so glad that someone is really giving it a serious try. Stick with it, roseability! The Nausicaa and Penelope sections are really amazing.

Don't think I can add much here (but couldn't not stand up to be counted) except to second the bit about audio - my supervisor always insisted some of the more difficult bits flow beautifully if read out in a drunk-stage-Irishman voice (chipmonkey, he said that applies even more for FW... not that I have ever tried it).

Also agree that reading Portrait first should help.

Good luck!

cornsilk Fri 29-Aug-08 22:08:44

I had to read it for my English degree and it was one of the exam questions I did in my finals. I hated it. Pretentious shite.

Elasticwoman Fri 29-Aug-08 22:58:49

Bit like Marmite isn't it - love it or hate it.

chipmonkey Fri 29-Aug-08 23:56:42

Well, obviously that was my mistake with FW, trying to read it sober!grin

saramoon Sat 30-Aug-08 08:38:33

It was one of the books for my uni course too many years ago. Didn't finish it, actually not sure i got past the first couple of pages!!
Audio would be good i guess, but i was never into that stream of consciousness thing, remember reading Mrs Dallaway (yawn). Much prefered Margaret Atwood or Kurt Vonnagart at uni.

FuriousGeorge Sat 30-Aug-08 22:58:39

Good luck-I'll read anything,but have never managed to get through this.Neither has anyone I have asked,

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