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James Joyce: Ulysses

Discussion in 'Fiction Books' started by glenda, Feb 3, 2003.

  1. glenda

    glenda New Member

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    Hi,

    Both my husband and myself have tried to read Ulysses by James Joyce. Neither of us have been able to get through it. We both read a lot and are not completely stupid:confused:
    Does anyone else have this problem with Ulysses? I think it's the rambling style prose, probably you have to be brilliant to write it, unfortunately- also brilliant to read it!!

    Is it worthwhile struggling through...
     
  2. Ell

    Ell Well-Known Member

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    Ulysses by James Joyce

    glenda,

    I made one aborted attempt at reading Ulysses some time ago. However, I was distracted by too many other books calling my name :D

    I've vowed to give it another serious go at some point, but probably not for awhile.

    I think you might be interested in a humorous site I came across about Ulysses. It's Ulysses for Dummies.

    Since you've tried reading Ulysses already, I think you'll find it pretty funny!

    p.s. I corresponded with author of the above and he says it is worth trying to finish.

    Ell
     
  3. Prolixic

    Prolixic kickbox

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    I am reminded of this thread where you might find some folks who can commiserate with you about Ulysses.
     
  4. HBinjection

    HBinjection New Member

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    I read Ulysses, but it was part of a semester long class, my bachelors keystone actually, so I had a proffesor as a guide and a chapter by chapter plot syopsis (heavily abbreviated, but enough to free you to examine some of the details) called The Bloomsday Book by Harold Bloom.

    Yes, it is worth it, but read the Bloomsday book or another companion. Maybe Ulysses for Dummies would help.

    However, I am of two minds about this novel.

    It is brilliant and funny and full of meaning and I could relate to many of the characters and it is chock full of catharsis, but it is very difficult and long.

    In the time it takes to read Ulysses, you could read the entire library of Phillip K. Dick, my favorite author, twice through.

    Literary finesse is fun and exciting, but the themes are the pearls to me. That is what I like to harvest from literature, and as rich as Ulysses is, it may be more difficult to penetrate than it is worth, considering the opportunity costs.

    However, it is one of those novels I pick up from time to time and read a random passage and discover something new and clever every time.
     
  5. ineldorado

    ineldorado New Member

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    Ulysses

    I hear of few who encounter this book without having the same trouble and expressing the same dissatisfaction. Most people are in great measure sociable and agreeable by nature. If they hear that something is very good, and if the opinion seems more or less universal among those who ought to know, then we do not like to disagree.

    However, in this case, the critics were badly mistaken. It is a rotten book. It is impossible for the literary rewards to be sufficent for wading through hundreds of pages of near-gibberish. Make it easy on yourself. Throw it away.
     
  6. HBinjection

    HBinjection New Member

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    ineldorado

    Are you sure you're not confusing Ulysses with Finnegan's Wake?

    Now that's a book you should throw in the trash!

    I imagine Ulysses is probably easier to understand for Irish readers.

    Are there any Dubliners here who would like to comment?
     
  7. HBinjection

    HBinjection New Member

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    again, ineldorado


    Have you read The Fountainhead?

    Judging from your statement about public tastes I think you'd enjoy a segment from The Fountainhead about a fictitious novel, "The Gallant Gallstone."

    It's an impenetrable work of jibberish with a socialist theme, so a group of elite critics, real intelligencia types, try to promote it.

    It's the kind of book that nobody reads, but everyone pretends to have read.
     
  8. ineldorado

    ineldorado New Member

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    No confusion. I've met both those books.


    I read one of Rand's books a long time ago; Anthem. At the time, I wasn't much taken by it, but I don't remember it being notably bad either. Fountainhead may be an entirely different story. This author just came up on another board that I frequent, with extreme opinions on both sides (that is, for and against the author and/or that particular book).

    I'll look into it.
     
  9. kasstorr

    kasstorr kickbox

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    If you'd like to get through Ulysses, I recommend getting the audio book. It's alot easier to get through because you don't lose yourself in the words. I find books that are difficult to read are a lot easier on audio books....at least with them, I don't get a headache!
     
  10. Serene

    Serene New Member

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  11. Polly Parrot

    Polly Parrot Moderator Staff Member

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    Resurrecting ancient thread, I know.


    Just finished rereading Ulysses, I keep discovering new things. :)

    Will post more on it later but it's past midnight here and I've had some wine...
     
  12. DATo

    DATo Active Member

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    If anyone is interested there is a book called Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation by Noel Fitch which deals in large part with the publication of Ulysses. Once having read this book I can almost guarantee that if you are made of human flesh your disgust with James Joyce will know no bounds. He was a user, an opportunist and a selfish and heartless bastard in my opinion.

    If you do not know who Sylvia Beach was or her place in the history of Ulysses please read up on her, she deserves that much. This gentle creature, of whom Hemingway once said, "No one that I ever knew was nicer to me." sacrificed tremendously for the publication of this book and then Joyce stabbed her in the back. I despise Joyce's memory with every fiber of my being as I do his work, which is, in my opinion, nothing more than ostentatiously garlanded JUNK, and I also take every opportunity, as I am doing now, to lay a verbal rose at the grave of one of the most kind-hearted women who has ever lived.
     
  13. Conscious Bob

    Conscious Bob Well-Known Member

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    Curious you admire her but feel she was wasting her time.
     
  14. DATo

    DATo Active Member

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    @Conscious Bob - I admire Sylvia Beach for the person she was and what she contributed to the English language literary community of the Parisian Left Bank. Read the book I mentioned in my previous post or her own book entitled Shakespeare and Company and you will understand why I feel as I do. She was far more than the original publisher of Ulysses. In keeping with the many reasons I admire her is included the fact that she never had a bad word to say about Joyce or anyone else for that matter. She was the very epitome of class - a great heart, which deserved better than it found in her treatment by Joyce.

    She supported Joyce and his leeching family on practically the entire profits from her humble little shop while Joyce and said family lived a lavish lifestyle buying the finest wines and leaving huge tips at the best restaurants during the writing of Ulysses and Finnegan's Wake which he dragged on and on adding to her already huge expenses. She faced down a Gestapo officer during WWII during the occupation of Paris who wanted one of the first copies of F.W. risking reprisal to both herself and her shop by refusing to provide it; in fact, if I remember correctly she was arrested for a short time at one point. She was also instrumental in getting the first printing of Ulysses smuggled into the USA at a time when the censorship rules forbade its importation. After all of this, when the censorship was finally lifted, that SOB Joyce signed and published Ulysses with Random House and disavowed any and all debts to Sylvia Beach, may he rot in hell.

    From Wikipedia:

    Shakespeare and Company gained considerable fame after it published James Joyce's Ulysses in 1922, as a result of Joyce's inability to get an edition out in English-speaking countries. Beach would later be financially stranded when Joyce signed on with another publisher, leaving Beach in debt after bankrolling, and suffering severe losses from, the publication of Ulysses.

    It breaks my heart to think that she died poor and alone after having contributed what she could to the many aspiring writers and artists of her times who she outlived - artists, composers, playwrights poets and novelists - some of whom who are now revered as the greatest and most avant-garde of their generation. With the exception of Joyce I'm sure the many others who knew her would acknowledge their debts for her many kindnesses as Hemingway did and when Hemingway takes the time to acknowledge someone you KNOW they must be very, very special.

    EDIT:
    From Wikipedia - This is a list of the many people she interacted with, many of whom she provided assistance to in one form or another:

    In 1956, Beach wrote Shakespeare and Company, a memoir of the inter-war years that details the cultural life of Paris at the time. The book contains first-hand observations of James Joyce, D. H. Lawrence, Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, Valery Larbaud, Thornton Wilder, André Gide, Leon-Paul Fargue, George Antheil, Robert McAlmon, Gertrude Stein, Stephen Benet, Aleister Crowley, Harry Crosby, Caresse Crosby, John Quinn, Berenice Abbott, Man Ray, and many others.

     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2014
  15. Conscious Bob

    Conscious Bob Well-Known Member

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    She didn't have a bad word to say about Joyce and she remained up to her dying day proud of the fact that she published Ulysses.

    James did take liberties and she knew it so the bottom line is everything she did for James she did with her eyes open.

    Safe to say DATo that her opinion of James Joyce was different to yours.
     
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  16. DATo

    DATo Active Member

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    You are quite correct to say that Sylvia Beach's opinion of Joyce differs from my own. She was a far, far better person than I am and in fact I cannot think of anyone I have ever known in my entire life who would have been so forgiving of Joyce's treatment had it been directed at them rather than her. Would YOU have been as forgiving as Sylvia Beach was under these circumstances, may I ask? I'm not saying if you were Sylvia Beach, but if this happened to YOU. If not, then it appears that your opinion on this matter is, by default, different than Ms. Beach's as well.

    You are once again correct to say that she did what she did with her eyes open. Friends had told her to dump Joyce but she would not abandon him. Is this loyalty not deserving of better treatment than the treatment she received? Can anyone made of flesh and blood not be revolted to the point of disgust by Joyce's betrayal of Beach? Perhaps Jesus and the Virgin Mary would, thus placing Sylvia Beach in hallowed company befitting her virtue which she deserves.

    Sylvia Beach's self-imposed mission was the promotion of art. She did not publish Ulysses necessarily to become rich, but because she felt it should be published, and Joyce had no other means to do so. This was her attitude toward all the writers she came in contact with. She wanted them to have a vehicle for the free expression of their talent and she was always ready to help them in whatever way she could.

    You are also correct to say that she was, to her dying day, proud of having supported the publication of Ulysses. And this small gratuity was ALL she was to receive in compensation for all she sacrificed.

    So you see I agree with your entire post. But I still consider Joyce a jerk and will continue to do so until my dying day.
     
  17. Conscious Bob

    Conscious Bob Well-Known Member

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    I agree with you Joyce was an arse I also think that big Hemingway was an arse too but the fact we hold personal opinions about the writers shouldn't colour our judgement on their written works.

    That's the real difference between us and Sylvia Beach, without that important distinction all we end up doing is trivialising her, portraying her as a victim when she was nothing of the sort. She was a complicit and influentual person with regard to the publication of Ulysses.

    I also suspect that if anyone had tried to put her straight about Joyce she would probably tell him or her to beat it.
     
  18. DATo

    DATo Active Member

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    I also TOTALLY agree with your opinion of Hemingway ... VERY much so .... but I'm already fuming over Joyce so don't get me started on Hemingway or I'll probably have a stroke .................... or something ................ *LOL*
     
  19. joe tate

    joe tate New Member

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    amazing book
     
  20. Peder

    Peder Well-Known Member

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    I thought so too.
    But his Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is much more approachable and also definitely worth a read.
     
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