Happy Bloomsday To You


Just in case anyone has forgotten, it's Bloomsday (the centennial), and among a multitude of other articles, here's a little editorial from today's New York Times, suggesting that you take the plunge... NYT.

Any advice from the Joyceans out there? Audio book, semester course or just open and pour?
Here's the "From Hunger" edition: Ulysses for Dummies .


I went to Dublin a few years back over Bloomsday and got Ulysses to read in advance. I figured it'd take me a week or so to read. I read about two chapters of it before I left and ended up toting the darn thing all over Ireland to read on trains and such. I don't think I ever got beyond chapter three. If anyone has any hints on how to get through it when even the inspiration of being in Dublin on Bloomsday doesn't help, I'd love to hear them :-)I just found this great "Ulysses for Dummies" site that I may peruse later. Maybe that would help.

This article from Reason Online has made me feel much better about not having read it.

Bloom himself would never and could never have read Ulysses or a book like Ulysses," John Carey writes in his book Pure Pleasure: A Guide to the 20th Century’s Most Enjoyable Books. "The complexity of the novel, its avant-garde technique, its obscurity, rigorously exclude people like Bloom from its readership. More than almost any other 20th-century novel, it is for intellectuals only.

Not that I'm anti-intellectual, mind you. More like lazy.

Never! Tried a long time ago and couldn't. I figure that I was bought my way out of having to read Joyce altogether via my devotion to the Irish punk band the Pogues, who given my dim understanding of Joyce, sort of provided dancable 3-4 minute versions of Joycian themes during the 80s. Heck, they even feature ol' JJ on the cover of their finest, If I Should Fall With Grace from God.

I gotta say, by day's end, I was pretty full-up with Bloomsday stories. Have that many people read Joyce that they know what Bloomsday is? In addition to NPR running stories morning and evening, even our local NPR affiliate did some sort of Bloomsday-with-a-local-twist story. Drudge was about the only place I could escape Bloomsday-mania. ;-)

Can you tell I'm feeling a little defensive about having not read Ulysses?

Bloomsday library story from Australia.

I had a somewhat similar experience years ago--and it involved Pynchon, namely Gravity's Rainbow (which, at the time, i found moving and hilarious at points). But it wasn't pages 52-103...it was a signature about 3/4 of the way through the book! (And it was my own copy.)

I couldn't give up at that point, and skipping 32 pages of Gravity's Rainbow would make it even less coherent. I sent a letter to the publisher, who did send a new copy, and--after backing up 50-60 pages to refresh context, finished reading it after a 3-month interruption...

The least intimidating Pynchon book is Crying of Lot 49. Also, maybe, the most fun (in an historically paranoid way).

Pynchon! He's also always intimidated me.

I like that Rule of 42. In my case, it's the first 2 chapters.

One recent book where the decision was made for me in advance was James Chace's recent 1912. I got to page 52 and realized that the next 52 pages were an exact duplicate of the previous 52. The library got a bum copy from the publisher.

Maybe. It was a long time ago, and I get confused between Ulysses and Finnegan's Wake. The one of the two that's just hard going, I did read--and, back then, sort of enjoyed. The one that requires knowledge of several languages and all sort of other stuff to even begin to comprehend...that one I gave up on, and will never return to.

Fair to say that I'd never attempt either of them again. I even gave up on Thomas Pynchon (who I used to love) after 40-50 pages of Lewis & Clark (is that the name), concluding that it was more an exercise in dialect-writing than something I wanted to read. The joys of growing older and busier: The modified Rule of 100 (which, at my age, means reading 42 pages before giving up) looks better all the time.

Has anybody else out there read Ulysses? I've never been able to surmount a certain intimidation (same intimidation I feel about Proust and Tolstoy and Dostoevsky). I had a hard enough time with Portrait of the Artist in high school .....

Yes, I just realized that that is exactly the site listed in the original post. Maybe the reason I never got through Ulysses is much simpler than I thought...

I think your Pogues devotion more than substitutes for not reading Ulysses. Course, I haven't read it either, so .....

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