Ulysses: Final Post

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Finally finished! It was a tough ride. There were sections I loved and others I really struggled with. Joyce is undeniably talented, the chapter where he walks the reader through the entire history of the English language proves that. But his style isn’t my favorite and I frequently felt lost in his ramblings. I’m glad I read it and I’m also glad it’s done! Once again, please check out Adam's awesome episode break down here. 

The supplemental material in my book explains some of the background on the censorship of the book and includes a letter from Joyce to his Random House publisher. It also includes the monumental 1933 decision to stop people from banning the book in America. The ruling changed the way censorship was approached in our country.

I absolutely loved some of the comments from Judge M. Woolsey, the man who made the decision. To me, his summary of the book captures so many of my feelings perfectly.
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“Ulysses is not an easy book to read or to understand. But there has been much written about it, and in order properly to approach the consideration of it it is advisable to read a number of other books which have now become it’s satellites. The study of Ulysses is, therefore, a heavy task. The reputation of Ulysses in the literary world, however, warranted my taking such time as was necessary to enable me to satisfy myself as to the intent with which the book was written.

It is brilliant and dull, intelligible and obscure by turns. In many places it seems to me to be disgusting, but although it contains, as I have mentioned above, many words usually considered dirty, I have not found anything that I consider to be dirt for dirt’s sake.

Joyce has attempted — it seems to me, with astonishing success — to show how the screen of consciousness with its ever-shifting kaleidoscopic impressions carries, as it were on a plastic palimpsest, not only what is in the focus of each man’s observation of the actual things about him, but also in a penumbral zone residua of past impressions, some recent and some drawn up by association from the domain of the subconscious. He shows how each of these impressions affects the life and behavior of the character which he is describing.”
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The very final episode of the book is a crazy onslaught of thoughts from Bloom’s wife Molly’s point of view. She flits from thing to the next with no real pattern. She is just thinking, so her thoughts are unfiltered. It’s oddly refreshing even if it’s hard to follow. How many of us have had the same thing happen as we randomly think about our day? I could immediately relate.

Joyce’s honesty his characters really struck me in the final few chapters. He writes about Bloom’s flaws and fetishes in detail, something that just wasn’t done before. Yet by the close of the book you feel a bit hopeful about his marriage. There was something powerful about that. No matter how gross or strange Bloom was, he might have found his equal in his wife Molly.

BOTTOM LINE: Reading Ulysses was an experience. I struggled with it. I was blown away by the lovely language at times and at others I was completely weirded out. I can’t really compare it to anything else and that alone makes it a unique book. I am so glad I read it and I also don’t think I will ever read it again!

“Still you learn something. See ourselves as others see us.”

“Life, love, voyage round your own little world.”

8 comments:

  1. Congratulations!!

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  2. Bkclubcare- Thanks! Now on to the next readalong with you! We will definitely pick something more fun.

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  3. Wow, can't believe you read this. I've decided to try it eventually because I'm one-fifth Irish. I own a whole book of notes for the novel. THERE IS A WHOLE BOOK OF NOTES. :)

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  4. I'm less afraid of Ulysses after reading your posts.

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  5. Congratulations! This is quite the accomplishment!

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  6. Jillian - That’s so intimidating! I knew there was a ton of supplemental material but I decided that reading it was overwhelming enough.

    Susan - Good! It wasn’t easy, but I’m glad I tackled it.

    Julie - Thanks! Now I just have to attempt Proust. LOL

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  7. You've inspired me to give this a try. Lord only knows when I'll have time to fit this in, though. :-)

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  8. bibliophilica - Good luck! Get the audio if you can!

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