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Thread: Why the hell James Joyce's Ulysses always tops the list of best novels?

  1. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lokasenna View Post
    I'm not quite sure I follow what you're saying here, but I think you're making the same point as Ecurb? In which case, my answer stands. I am entitled to my opinion.
    It is quite similar, but I am just poiting your opinion is not justified (the right to have an opinion do not justify it), as you did not explained in which basis your gave such opinion. Just like when Blaze does, we discover a list of gross generalizations which do not support his rant, which in the end is just one more rant against art elitism which Joyce represents (god know why).

    Not saying you are the same, but if your opinion is justified, it is just interesting to hear those justifications.

  2. #32
    Card-carrying Medievalist Lokasenna's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ecurb
    Surely it is possible to recognize the "artistic genius" of someone whose works don't appeal to you personally, is it not?
    Of course, but I'm really not convinced that Joyce is an 'artistic genius'. In part this comes from my general antipathy towards modernism as a whole, but even on stylistic grounds I find Joyce rather impenetrable, and rather overwrought. I think Ulysses was a springboard for the author to try a variety of linguistic experiments, some of which worked but many of which failed, and as a result it does not, in my opinion, hold together well. It manages to be less than the sum of its parts. My opinions are based on my analysis of the text as I read it.

    I'm sure other people will disagree; the thing you posted up earlier is clearly a love letter to Ulysses written by someone who holds it in the highest regard. And that's fine, but its not exactly academically rigorous. It is predominantly one person's emotive reaction to the work.

    The argument works both ways. To assert the greatness of something without a reason is just as illogical as asserting the baseness of it.

    Quote Originally Posted by hanzklein
    Don't come in with silly nonsense like 'its outdated', Ulysses is so ahead of its time that if it were to be written tomorrow but appropriate edits placed to preserve the time period, it would be called 'decades ahead of its time'.
    Don't get me wrong, I don't agree with blaze on this issue - but I would argue that Ulysses was very much a product of its time. It's not outdated by any means - but if it were published tomorrow, it would be seen as somewhat old fashioned. We are, so I'm told, post-modernists these days!

    Quote Originally Posted by hanzklein
    Yes, it takes months to study and read, but after being read, there will not again be a need to read another novel ever.
    Woo, that's a BIG claim to make. Are you really sure you mean this?
    "I should only believe in a God that would know how to dance. And when I saw my devil, I found him serious, thorough, profound, solemn: he was the spirit of gravity- through him all things fall. Not by wrath, but by laughter, do we slay. Come, let us slay the spirit of gravity!" - Nietzsche

  3. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    It is quite similar, but I am just poiting your opinion is not justified (the right to have an opinion do not justify it), as you did not explained in which basis your gave such opinion. Just like when Blaze does, we discover a list of gross generalizations which do not support his rant, which in the end is just one more rant against art elitism which Joyce represents (god know why).

    Not saying you are the same, but if your opinion is justified, it is just interesting to hear those justifications.
    I think what J is saying is that for an opinion to carry any weight, you have to back it up with some logical reasons. Which I agree with. I will listen to the person who says, "The movie sucked because of this and this and this," much more than the person who just says, "The movie sucked." Both have equal entitlement to their opinions, but one opinion seems a bit more valid than the other, no?

    EDIT: I think you just made a perfect example, Lok, as the following seems to show:
    Quote Originally Posted by Lokasenna View Post
    Of course, but I'm really not convinced that Joyce is an 'artistic genius'. In part this comes from my general antipathy towards modernism as a whole, but even on stylistic grounds I find Joyce rather impenetrable, and rather overwrought. I think Ulysses was a springboard for the author to try a variety of linguistic experiments, some of which worked but many of which failed, and as a result it does not, in my opinion, hold together well. It manages to be less than the sum of its parts. My opinions are based on my analysis of the text as I read it.

    And you do know hanzklien is the board's resident Ulysses fanboy, right Lok? It's like trying to tell a Star Wars nerd that The Empire Strikes Back may, just possibly, not be the greatest movie ever made.
    Last edited by Mutatis-Mutandis; 04-28-2011 at 05:16 PM.

  4. #34
    Ecurb Ecurb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lokasenna View Post
    Of course, but I'm really not convinced that Joyce is an 'artistic genius'. In part this comes from my general antipathy towards modernism as a whole, but even on stylistic grounds I find Joyce rather impenetrable, and rather overwrought. I think Ulysses was a springboard for the author to try a variety of linguistic experiments, some of which worked but many of which failed, and as a result it does not, in my opinion, hold together well. It manages to be less than the sum of its parts. My opinions are based on my analysis of the text as I read it.

    I'm sure other people will disagree; the thing you posted up earlier is clearly a love letter to Ulysses written by someone who holds it in the highest regard. And that's fine, but its not exactly academically rigorous. It is predominantly one person's emotive reaction to the work.

    The argument works both ways. To assert the greatness of something without a reason is just as illogical as asserting the baseness of it.
    I thought that the Times essay was a balanced approach. It pointed out some of the failings of Ulysses, as well as its strengths. In addition, Jan Morris uses specific examples illustrating Ulysses strengths. I first read the column before I'd read Ulysses, and the story of Bloom and the scrumpled paper and the seagulls sounded charming to me even then. It's one of the reasons I read the book.

    I'll grant that Morris' column is a love letter -- but, unlike your critique, it hints at the very real charms of the beloved. Morris agrees with you that Ulysses is unnecessarily "impenetrable". Nonetheless, works of "genius" need not be perfect. Instead, they must contain moments of brilliance, originality, and emotional resonance. Morris mentions a little scene, an ordinary moment in Bloom's day, that exemplifies those qualities.

  5. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lokasenna View Post
    The argument works both ways. To assert the greatness of something without a reason is just as illogical as asserting the baseness of it.
    For what it's worth, I agree.

    There are a lot of things I don't like that others do and vice-versa. So what? In general, I don't think I need to justify my opinion beyond stating it unless I find it entertaining to do so.

    I remember a decade ago a co-worker friend recommended that I read Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. I didn't understand a word of it. Luckily it was short. But I did enjoy quoting it to my wife and we both ironically found Wittgenstein amusing thinking that this is the sort of book my friend would recommend.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lokasenna View Post
    O
    Don't get me wrong, I don't agree with blaze on this issue - but I would argue that Ulysses was very much a product of its time. It's not outdated by any means - but if it were published tomorrow, it would be seen as somewhat old fashioned. We are, so I'm told, post-modernists these days!
    Ulysses is a product of its time in what way? Definitely, there are influences from the time period such as slang, historical references, customs, etc. which is to be expected when trying to replicate life in early 1900's Dublin. But, the writing is shockingly original, all of the archaic sounding passages are parodies of a specific writing style. The book is very modern, everything is made with a self-awareness. Look at the stream of consciousness sections.

    Furthermore, the book has practically no category that its lumped into, so therefore it can't be dated. It's 25% stream of consciousness, but Joyce's style was unique, how can something be dated that was practically invented by the author and belongs to no time period and has not ever since been replicated?

    BLOOM (Meaningfully dropping his voice.) I confess I'm teapot with curiosity to find out whether some person's something is a little teapot at present.

    MRS BREEN (Gushingly.) Tremendously teapot! London's tea pot and I'm simply teapot all over me. (She rubs sides with him.) After the parlour mystery games and the crackers from the tree we sat on the staircase ottoman. Under the mistletoe. Two is company.

    BLOOM (Wearing a purple Napoleon hat with an amber halfmoon, his fingers and thumbs passing slowly down to her soft moist meaty palm which she surrenders gently.) The witching hour of night. I took the splinter out of this hand, carefully, slowly. (Tenderly, as he slips on her finger a ruby ring.) Là ci darem la mano.

    MRS BREEN (In a onepiece eveningfrock executed in moonlight blue, a tinsel sylph's diadem on her brow with her dancecard fallen beside her moonblue satin slipper curves her palm softly, breathing quickly.) Voglio e non. You're hot! You're scalding! The left hand nearest the heart.

    BLOOM When you made your present choice they said it was beauty and the beast. I can never forgive you for that. (His clenched fist at his brow.) Think what it means. All you meant to me then. (Hoarsely.) Woman, it's breaking me! (Dennis Breen, whitetallhatted, with Wisdom Hely's sandwich board, shuffles past them in cadet slippers, his dull beard thrust out, muttering to right and left. Little Alf Bergan, cloaked in the pall of the ace of spaces, dogs him to left and right, doubled in laughter.)

    ALF BERGAN (Points jeering at the sandwich boards.) U.p.: Up
    Are you saying this passage would remind you of 19th century writing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lokasenna View Post
    Woo, that's a BIG claim to make. Are you really sure you mean this?
    Uhh, yeah, and I'm not the only person who's made it. There's a reason Ulysses fans made a holiday dedicated to the book. Can you tell me any other novel that is celebrated worldwide on a specific date as a holiday?

  7. #37
    www.markbastable.co.uk MarkBastable's Avatar
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    Can I suggest that the rest of us get out of the way and let Hanzklein and Blaze slug this one out on their own? I suspect that standing aside with a pint and a packet of nuts will be more fun than getting involved.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hanzklein View Post
    Uhh, yeah, and I'm not the only person who's made it. There's a reason Ulysses fans made a holiday dedicated to the book. Can you tell me any other novel that is celebrated worldwide on a specific date as a holiday?
    And this is proof of anything how?

    But, I'm with Lok. Do you really mean what you said? That after reading Ulysses, that there's no where to go? Nothing else is worth reading, because Ulysses is just that good. This even goes beyond claiming that it's the best piece of literature ever written--now you're saying it's as good as all works of literature accumulated. Really?
    Last edited by Mutatis-Mutandis; 04-28-2011 at 07:10 PM.

  9. #39
    riding a cosmic vortex MystyrMystyry's Avatar
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    The thing is all these allusions you seem to be so scared of aren't merely literary works you haven't read - they're also the junk and refuse of his life and time - there are references to popular tunes and advertising jingles, people and events of the day that have been long forgotten, folklore and superstition, overheard bits of conversation, all sorts of STUFF jumbled up and spilling out like a day on the street living (or even surfing the internet at times)

    The river of consciousness is made of the random and disruptive thoughts that go through a normal person's mind and heart every day

    If you're too lazy to read it download an audio-book to your mp3 player, close you eyes and let the magical rhythms of the Dublin brogue carry you through time to a more innocent and wonderful place

    But I still recommend you read it because it contains chapter upon chapter of brilliance and each separately will become a valuable friend, and the entire work something you can marvel and laugh at and with for your entire life

  10. #40
    Card-carrying Medievalist Lokasenna's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkBastable View Post
    Can I suggest that the rest of us get out of the way and let Hanzklein and Blaze slug this one out on their own? I suspect that standing aside with a pint and a packet of nuts will be more fun than getting involved.
    Hmm, I think you might be right.
    "I should only believe in a God that would know how to dance. And when I saw my devil, I found him serious, thorough, profound, solemn: he was the spirit of gravity- through him all things fall. Not by wrath, but by laughter, do we slay. Come, let us slay the spirit of gravity!" - Nietzsche

  11. #41
    Haribol Acharya blazeofglory's Avatar
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    Okay Ulysses is a fine read. Of course his rhetoric style and grand theme can rock any reader. We always adulate a person who can scale the height we always dream of mounting but to no avail and look to it from a distance fixedly and attentively.

    Yes he has scaled the height of pomposity, grandiloquence and adjectivally he is very praiseworthy.

    So were Alexander Pope, Milton, Dryden and if we still go farther in the history of literature a whole herd of poets and scholars and they are almost forgotten today. We do not name them except for discussion in the classroom.

    But I simply cannot stand the way he is getting a series of applause and praises. There are other great writers worthy of our praise like Kafka, Sartre to name a few.

    Today so many great writers emerged and maybe not the way James started. James' days and values are gone and we are awakening to new realities and new circumstances. Of course there are a few domains of life wherein the values he set and defined are still valid but not all else. New values and circumstances are advancing and any piece of literature that cannot mirror the realities of the day cannot be still graded number one though that can say volumes of the day gone by.

    That is why I think and some others too agree with me James Joyce remains always overrated.
    Last edited by blazeofglory; 04-29-2011 at 10:15 AM.

    “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.

  12. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by blazeofglory View Post
    Okay Ulysses is a fine read. Of course his rhetoric style and grand theme can rock any reader. We always adulate a person who can scale the height we always dream of mounting but to no avail and look to it from a distance fixedly and attentively.

    Yes he has scaled the height of pomposity, grandiloquence and adjectivally he is very praiseworthy.

    So were Alexander Pope, Milton, Dryden and if we still go farther in the history of literature a whole herd of poets and scholars and they are almost forgotten today. We do not name them except for discussion in the classroom.

    But I simply cannot stand the way he is getting a series of applause and praises. There are other great writers worthy of our praise like Kafka, Sartre to name a few.

    Today so many great writers emerged and maybe not the way James started. James' days and values are gone and we are awakening to new realities and new circumstances. Of course there are a few domains of life wherein the values he set and defined are still valid but not all else. New values and circumstances are advancing and any piece of literature that cannot mirror the realities of the day cannot be still graded number one though that can say volumes of the day gone by.

    That is why I think and some others too agree with me James Joyce remains always overrated.
    I would see where you're coming from when speaking of Dubliners and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (his lesser works), but Ulysses is completely different. Unless, of course, you consider a husband encouraging his wife to cheat on him an accepted modern or previous value. When you think about it, all that's going on in the novel is people talking and going on about their daily lives in a city. Joyce was very social in life, having moved dozens of times back and forth over various countries throughout his lifetime. Its not hard to relate to whats going on eventually.

    James Joyce can't accept anyone's praise; he died 60 years ago. There's no need to be 'jealous' of the man, or angry at some supposed over-representation.

  13. #43
    I strongly recommend anyone reading Ulysses download an app analysis of this book for their iPod . Just as you wouldn't explore the amazon river without a guide and gps, so too, ulysses requires some guidance for the first time reader. It is so grand and complicated that it will paralyze the uninitiated. I'm happy to give cogent examples if anyone desires them.

  14. #44
    E.g., Ulysses contains more unique words than any other piece of literature in the history of mankind. But rather than argue who is the best, let us give thanks for the plethora of brilliant literature in the world.

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    My personal philosphy is that everything is overrated.

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