Ulysses Readlong: Part 2

Tuesday, February 20, 2018


So I've officially made it halfway through the book and it hasn't killed me yet! I won't pretend that I've understood everything that has happened in Joyce's epic novel, but I will say Adam aka Roof Beam Reader, has provided notes and thoughts on each section and they are invaluable! Here are the notes on episodes #7-12.

This section of the book has quite a bit more in the way of crass humor and I'm not shocked that it was so frequently banned in the past. It also gives us a deeper view into our characters, both how they see themselves and how others see them. I'm also both impressed and often overwhelmed by how many different styles Joyce uses in his writing. Sometimes his parodying something, sometimes it fits a new narrator's point of view, etc. But it always keeps the reader on their toes. 

For me, I like to read an entire episode, then go back and read a summary and some notes. I like to let the language flow over me first before I bring someone else's opinions into the mix. I'm looking forward to the second half, but I'm also already a bit exhausted by Joyce!
 
Once again, I am positive that if I wasn't combining the audio version (seen above) and print, than I would be losing this fight. Being able to hear the story and following the random bits of French, Latin, and songs has helped so much. If you're thinking of reading it, I would highly recommend trying this! 

"Every life is in many days, day after day. We walk through ourselves, meeting robbers, ghosts, giants, old men, young men, wives, widows, brothers-in-love. But always meeting ourselves". 

Ulysses Readlong: Part 1

Thursday, February 8, 2018



I went into this readalong thinking it was going to be a complete slog and I would hate it. But honestly, I wanted to know why was considered a classic. I love Ireland and this is one of the most famous pieces of literature from the country. I think I built it up as being so difficult and horrible in my mind that the reality isn’t that scary. So far (don’t hit me) I’m actually liking most of it.

I can’t say enough about the importance of pairing the audio version with the print. I love doing it that way. Instead of fighting through every single line, I hear a lyrical Irish voice reading the conversations to me. It brings them alive. When one person rambles on about some idea, it feels like I’m listening to a long-winded friend. Then I go back to the print version and find passages that I loved. I look at the layout of each chapter because the styles are unique. 

After I finish a chapter, I’ve been reading this guide which provides very short little summaries of what happened. Also, the incredible Adam at Roof Beam Reader is posting his in-depth thoughts about each chapter on his blog. Here’s the link. They are wonderfully detailed and make connections I never would have caught. I love that he highlights the parallels with Greek mythology as well.

Combination of all these elements is really working for me. I’m not a huge fan of every single chapter and of course it is a strange book with a lot of meandering and stream of consciousness thought, but I was expecting that. I wasn’t expecting the beautiful language or profound reflections of life and death. I particularly love the references and discussions of Shakespeare’s work in chapter 9.

I think approaching the book with an open mind and an understanding that it was not going to be an easy read has really helped me enjoy it. I am NOT a Joyce scholar and I’m not reading it with the goal of understanding every single reference made. Instead, I relaxing into the novel and hoping to not become completely overwhelmed by it.
 
“I hear the ruin of all space, shattered glass and toppling masonry, and one livid final flame. What’s left of us then?”

“Here also over these craven hearts his shadow lies and on the scoffer’s heart and lips and on mine. It lies upon their eager faces who offered him a coin of the tribute.”

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