Monday, April 16, 2012

Thing One: Ulysses & Ulysses

I like to think of myself as well-read. I've done Gone With the Wind, and The Great Gatsby, Moby-Dick and The Scarlet Letter, most of Dickens, all of Austen, all three Brontës, and a fair whack at Wharton, James, Hemingway, Hawthorne, etc.

But Joyce has stymied me. I tried, I really did - I was assigned A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man as a senior in high school, but 1) I was basically all set with assigned reading by that point, having already suffered through Lord of the Flies, 2) I was basically all set with high school at that point, having already been admitted to college, and 3) Chapter three. Holy god, chapter three is a beast. Stephen experiences the agonies of hell while sitting in a church!  I just couldn't, you guys.

So even though everyone I know keeps telling me that I should love Joyce, and even though Ulysses was named the best novel of all time a while ago, I just couldn't do it. But you know what, I should love Joyce, and, more pressing, a friend of mine needs to read Ulysses for her thesis, and so I am finally going to bite the bullet and read it. I'm making the commitment here. This Bloomsday (June 16th), I am going to either have read or be reading Ulysses. Hoping for the former, accepting that the latter is probably more likely.

Speaking of Ulysses, and speaking of things it is utterly shameful that I have not read: The Odyssey.  Seriously, you guys. I was a Folklore and Mythology concentrator in college. I have cited The Odyssey dozens if not hundreds of times, not least of all because of Penelope, who is basically my spirit animal. I've made arguments about the communal nature of weaving based solely on the stories of Circe and Calypso, reasoning that it wouldn't be mentioned that they were both weaving solitarily unless that was unusual. But have I ever read it all the way through? I have not. It's terrible.

So since I'm reading one Ulysses, I figured I should get both my Ulysseses(?) taken care of.

So that's Thing One: fill the gaps in my Ulysses-related reading.


  1. Such a great idea! If you can somehow do Joyce's Ulysses with a group, I think it's much more valuable - being able to talk about what you're getting out of it with someone who is responding to it in a totally different way because of his/her upbringing/cultural experience was one of the greatest things I got out of my freshman English seminar.

  2. Interesting! I have a friend who, as I said, has to read it for her thesis, and I know I can talk about it with her, but I bet the internet has an online group I could join, too. I'll consider that. Thanks, Kaitlyn!

  3. I'll read it with you! My literary catalog is sadly lacking in the #1 book of all time.