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Thread: James Joyce - Ulysses

  1. #16
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    I must confess that I have not read Homer's Odyssey but have a fair working knowledge of the epic return home .And as I undertstand Ulysses
    it is a modern urban journey .And living in rural communities all of my life I may have to reach a bit further for the urban meaning of something. That is a challenge that is still worth the effort .It is part of the self-education that I willing partake to understand great literature.

    And I really do need to get a copy of Homer's Odyssey !!

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    First attempt at Ulysses

    For those attempting to read one of the best books should try reading the Annotated Student Edition of Ulysses. It has over 250 pages of reference notes that help explain the context that Ulysses was written about. Joyce wrote about a day in the life of Dublin, Ireland and he assumed that the reader would be familiar with the context of that time and that place. There are many Irish idiosyncrasies associated with Ulysses that add layers of flavour to the story, and at times, can often leave the reader disconcerted without knowing that context. Although the notes can seem complied from from one point of view, the notes are taken from a number of different sources and does effectively fill in a lot of blanks. Try it, you might like it.

  3. #18
    Registered User Etienne's Avatar
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    I'm reading A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and the only conclusion I could come to is that this book is only so well known and popular because it is from the same writer of Ulysses. I haven't read Ulysses yet, but I plan to as soon as I get it in English, and I do hope it's better than A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

    However seeing the amount of authors I like that loved Ulysses, I am confident it's going to be better...

  4. #19
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    I thought "Portrait" was utterly spellbinding. Ulysses is far, far, denser, but it is brilliant all the same.

  5. #20
    Registered User Etienne's Avatar
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    I think it's a very good book and pleasant, but it's highly overrated. What came to my mind as a possibility is that many people read this book because it's shorter and perhaps easier than other Joyce's and then can claim they like and have read Joyce and this would cause the book to be held so high in "ratings" - because of Ulysses, basically.

    Or maybe I just didn't "get it"...

  6. #21
    Fingertips of Fury B-Mental's Avatar
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    In my opinion, Joyce is under read...it is not overrated...Joyce was the Faulkner of Ireland....he was beautiful in his explicit description...many people refuse to read him, because he wrote a whole day and fit it into 500 plus pages...pure genius...peace, B
    "I am glad to learn my friend that you had not yet submitted yourself to any of the mouldy laws of Literature."
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    "My candle burns at both ends; It will not last the night; But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends - It gives a lovely light"
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  7. #22
    Registered User PanzaFan's Avatar
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    Ulysses is not for the faint of heart. It took me a little while before I was able to even begin understanding what was happening then something clicked. I did enjoy the complex stream of conciousness, because it is so unique. A good supplemental book to help understand the text was vital for me. (Thanks for the help picking one.) Also I read a few pages maybe a dozen or more then laid it down and just let myself soak in and think about what I read often rereading sections and pages several times. I am far from highly intelligent but what I lacked in mental strength I made up for with determination. If Joyce's goal was to confuse, he is without a doubt the Grand Master. Having said that, I still think everyone should have the experience of reading something like Ulysses simply to challenge their minds. I also feel that Ulysses is more art than literature because it paints a complex and vivid picture of the inner workings of the mind, something a paint brush can't pull off as completely as Joyce did.
    "I am naturally too idle and lazy to hunt after authors, to say what I can say as well without them" Miguel De Cervantes, Don Quixote (Preface)

  8. #23

    Try the audiobook

    I listened to the audio book as read by Jim Norton, and it was excellent. I have heard some of an audio book version read by an Irish fellow, and it was also fascinating but I found his accent too think for me to understand easily. After listening to these, I am convinced that this book is actually intended to be read aloud, and highly recommend getting the audio book version.

  9. #24
    Haribol Acharya blazeofglory's Avatar
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    I wonder why a book needs to be complex to be good. I think it is the pride and pedantry of a writer that makes it more complex. Joyce is extraneously or unimportantlly complex. I do not waste my time for such stuff.

    “Those who seek to satisfy the mind of man by hampering it with ceremonies and music and affecting charity and devotion have lost their original nature””

    “If water derives lucidity from stillness, how much more the faculties of the mind! The mind of the sage, being in repose, becomes the mirror of the universe, the speculum of all creation.

  10. #25
    Bibliophile JBI's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Etienne View Post
    I think it's a very good book and pleasant, but it's highly overrated. What came to my mind as a possibility is that many people read this book because it's shorter and perhaps easier than other Joyce's and then can claim they like and have read Joyce and this would cause the book to be held so high in "ratings" - because of Ulysses, basically.

    Or maybe I just didn't "get it"...
    It is the style that makes A portrait. The book itself is narrated from the mind of the growing artist, and therefore seems to mature with him, and echo his thoughts. Also the political context is important. It is hardly as famous, but it is still a great read, simply for its style, which still seems the most unique and defined in all literature. But you are correct, its fame is somehow attached to the fact that it is Joyce. that is inevitable, but it still is a very famous, and great book, regardless of that.

  11. #26
    Bibliophile JBI's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mustbepatient View Post
    I listened to the audio book as read by Jim Norton, and it was excellent. I have heard some of an audio book version read by an Irish fellow, and it was also fascinating but I found his accent too think for me to understand easily. After listening to these, I am convinced that this book is actually intended to be read aloud, and highly recommend getting the audio book version.
    You missed some things then, since some things don't translate to the audio. The page format is very important for many aspects of the book.

  12. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by blazeofglory View Post
    I wonder why a book needs to be complex to be good. I think it is the pride and pedantry of a writer that makes it more complex.
    No: pride and pedantry of a writer does not make his/her novel more complex. When you push realism to it's absolute limits, attempting to examine almost every single minute detail in the confusion of events of one single day, then complexity is inevitable. It's done out of ambition and a need to develop one's work into greater maturity, something every good writer strives to do.

    Simple, minimalistic prose is not the ideal prose style that every writer has to work towards. If that were the case then originality would die overnight.

  13. #28
    Bibliophile JBI's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lambert View Post
    No: pride and pedantry of a writer does not make his/her novel more complex. When you push realism to it's absolute limits, attempting to examine almost every single minute detail in the confusion of events of one single day, then complexity is inevitable. It's done out of ambition and a need to develop one's work into greater maturity, something every good writer strives to do.

    Simple, minimalistic prose is not the ideal prose style that every writer has to work towards. If that were the case then originality would die overnight.
    You are right to some degree, but it is impossible to deny the fact that Joyce's word choices, and style were designed to be complex and enigma full. Just look at Finnegans Wake, and tell me he wasn't intentionally trying to be impossibly complex.

  14. #29
    Registered User Lambert's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBI View Post
    You are right to some degree, but it is impossible to deny the fact that Joyce's word choices, and style were designed to be complex and enigma full. Just look at Finnegans Wake, and tell me he wasn't intentionally trying to be impossibly complex.
    It's lackadaisical, though, to assume that FW is wilfully obscure to the point that the text is impossible to understand.

    If you get the chance, read Seamus Deane's excellent introduction to FW. He pretty much believes like a lot of readers of FW that the book is about writing and interpretation, especially in a historical sense. To Joyce, as a modernist, there was no absolute, objective interpretation of history, only a series subjective viewpoints that constantly come in to conflict with one another (represented by the two brothers Shem and Shaun). But at the same time he believed that recording history in all its forms was not a futile exercise.

    It's the same with Ulysses. You can see what Bloom is thinking, see the knowledge he has accumulated over the years, see how he acts and see how he relates to the people around, but you would never get to know the man absolutely, no matter how many styles Joyce lets you see him through. It's about what realism, and fiction in general, can and can't do.

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