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Ulysses Loosely based on the Odyssey this landmark of modern literature follows ordinary Dubliners in 1904 Capturing a single day in the life of Dubliner Leopold Bloom his friends Buck Mulligan and Stephen Dedalus his wife Molly and a scintillating cast of supporting characters Joyce pushes Celtic lyricism and vulgarity to splendid extremes Captivating experimental techniues range from interior monologues to exuberant wordplay and earthy humor A major achievement in 20th century literature I have left this book unrated because I simply cannot rate it I cannot review it either or try to criticise it Instead I’ve decided to share my experience with something I cannot define But first here’s what James Joyce had to say about it 'I’ve put in so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant and that’s the only way of insuring one’s immortality’ The accuracy of this statement balances out the sheer arrogance of Joyce’s assertion I tried to put my own design on the book Well at least I tried to focus on one particular recurring theme as I read in order to try and bring the thing together in my own mind I failed I focused on Death or at least discussions of Death and the representations of it But after a while the ideas started to contradict each other and fade out of the narrative only to randomly pop up again and vanishHere’s three uotes I pulled out from the beginning though “Old England is dying” “And what is death she asked” “In a dream she had come to him after death”Death and its shadow seemed to haunt the early part of the writing What is this end we are pushing towards Is it an end Can we even call it painful The idea it conveys is that time at least time according to human perception pushes singularly towards this phenomenon the ultimate truth of life Ulysses is deeply symbolic This haunting can be read as a decay of the state the breakdown of society its traditions and values as it enters a new modern era The old structures of civilisation are dying the world is changing art is changing thought is changing and perhaps this is what Ulysses represents in some sense Perhaps this new creature of literature is the very essence of this new dawn of the modernist art movement or perhaps I have simply been swayed by one of the many nuanced impressions within the work the subtle hints and suggestions that can be ready in so many different ways I focused so much on death that when it left the narrative I did not know what else to look for or why I was reading it or where the story was going This book is not something that fits into a nice little box or one that can be summed up accurately it simply is a thing that is Forming a coherent opinion of something so incoherent is even harder What can one judge The sheer brilliance of the innovative writing is juxtaposed against the dull drawn out interactions and descriptions Isn’t that sentence just one huge contradiction Well the entire book is one contradiction I could spend a lifetime studying Ulysses and still not be able to decipher it I hate it I love it I want to burn it I want to celebrate it Certainly I enjoyed reading parts of Ulysses in fact I engulfed parts of it However I detested just as many bits of it I was so terribly bored with large parts of the novel frustrated agonised and on one occasion actually sent to sleep You could imagine my dismay when I woke up the next morning with the thing on the floor and I’d lost my page number I had no idea where I was exactly somewhere between pages 300 500 I guessed rather inaccurately so I had to try and back track Much harder than it sounds I lost my place in a book that I was already lost in completely Not lost as engrossed but lost in the sense that I had no idea where the hell I was in this labyrinth of writing and that’s before I lost my page Now there’s some irony The result was me reading around seventy pages a second time round with next to no memory I had actually read them until I came across a rather distinctive passage and was rather annoyed with myself Ulysses is a book that washes over you; it’s the sort of book that you can spend reading for a few hours and then barely remember what you have read It reuires a reader who can pay attention to a book that has a wavering plot likes to wonder all over the place and then return randomly to characters that have disappeared for a long period of time All in all it was my nightmare and my dream It defeated me twice I kept forgetting what had happened and despite reading so many plot summaries I probably could not describe this book beyond what the blurb on my copy says I feel like I need to read it again The thought fills with me dread Perhaps one day when I am old surrounded by thousands of books and an army of loyal cats I will pick up this book again and remember my initial desondency and admiration Or perhaps I will be wiser Perhaps I will see to the heart of the matter and hatelove Joyce even for this for this thing As a random aside I feel sorry for whatever kooky old professor in Fahrenheit 451 drew the bad straw and had to remember this book I digress but imagine that Poor bastard I had to start the book again three times and I found myself agonising over sections of inane and irrelevant bollocks But there’s also beauty inside just like life How sentimental of me Ulysses is modernism Modernist literature varied though a sense of newness permeated all artistic representations And this was and still is something new I dare you to go and read it for yourself 5 stars because it's a work of genius so everyone says4 stars because it has so many deep literary and classical references that to say one understood the book is like saying one is very well educated3 stars because the words strung together in a stream of consciousness mellifluous onomatopoeic way read just beautifully2 stars because it was boring as hell I just couldn't care less about the characters I just wanted them to get on with whatever they were doing and have Joyce interfere in their lives with his references his poetry and his mellifluous whathavewehere considerably less1 star because I had to give it up It got wet when I dropped it in the bath and the pages stuck together when I dried it out Since it wasn't exactly cheap to start with and there wasn't another copy in the island bookshop mine I had no choice but to give it upOr at least that's my story and I'm sticking to itOr it would have been if I hadn't had the audio book Reviewed 28 May 2011 I Can't do it It fell in my toilet and didn't dry well and I'm accepting it as an act of god I decided against burning it and just threw it outYes I am a horrible person Life is too short to read Ulysses

  • Paperback
  • 783 pages
  • Ulysses
  • James Joyce
  • English
  • 09 August 2016

About the Author: James Joyce

James Joyce Irish novelist noted for his experimental use of language in such works as Ulysses 1922 and Finnegans Wake 1939 Joyce's technical innovations in the art of the novel include an extensive use of interior monologue; he used a complex network of symbolic parallels drawn from the mythology history and literature and created a uniue language of invented words puns and allusions


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