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I do think Joyce went overboard structurally. Some of the episodes struck me as too cryptic and obscure in their form, their structural basis too removed from anyything meaningful for me. Such a large portion of the book is entirely unconventional in form and it's so overwhelming and confusing. Of course, there is some spectacular writing, and a ton of great wit and laughs. And some of the stream of consciousness and interior monologue sections are so remarkable and compelling that you just have to read it.
Some advise no reference materials on first reading. I disagree and say get the Gifford encyclopedia and try to use it only when needed and to try to resist looking up every reference, allusion, slang or colloquialism, etc. I also used SparkNotes just for basic episode summaries. A good dictionary is essential. Helps to have read The Odyssey (obviously), Hamlet, Portrait of the Artist, Dubliners, the Bible, and more.
Man what a beast...
I should say that I first read Ulysses in my teens and come back to it every few years, finding it richer each time. As I progress through the stages of life, I 'get' more and marvel at just the understanding of human nature there is in the book. So I'm a fan, basically. :-)
Now, our meeting featured a talk by a fantastic Joyce scholar, which was very enlightening as to the incredible multiple layers of meaning and the references and the depth of the thing and so on. But the thing is, you can read the book as the book. Just read the words.
Anyway, so, recommendations:
1. If you're not liking it, stop reading it. Plain and simple. I don't mean dismiss it and rate it a zero. I mean just stop reading it. Because I can't tell you the number of books I've started reading and not got on with, that if I'd just slogged on and on and on like I was going to be punished for not 'finishing', would have put me off them for life. I've opened those same books, sometimes years later, and absolutely loved them. Sometimes you just have to be in a receptive mood. It'll pay off, believe me. This ain't school. You don't have to produce a report or keep up a grade average. If you ARE in school and etc, then I'm so sorry. The system will be cutting you off from what is a great pleasure in life.
2. PLEASE don't try and get all the meanings at once. One gentleman commented last night that he couldn't get on with it, even though he had the annotated version, etc. Holy moley. Imagine you're passing a bookshop on the day it came out.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
One of the greatest books of all time that revolutionized literature.Published 3 months ago by P. Mulloy
Joyce was 40 yrs old when Ulysses was published, it is a day in the life of a husband and father of Joyce's age (at publication). Read morePublished 4 months ago by James C Brandon
Are these questions geared for someone in the seventh grade?
READ THE BOOK AND MAYBE APPRECIATE THE BEST of LITERATURE
All I needed was for Time magazine to say that Ulysses was the single hardest piece of literature to comprehend in the English language. Challenge accepted. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Jen Tindell
Reluctantly, this book has been called a novel, but one gets the distinct feeling after reading it that that was a designation attached after the fact, that is, after it failed to... Read morePublished on September 27, 2013 by Herbert L Calhoun
These are not the best headphones, but for the price (as well as what I needed them for) they worked well. Fast shipping.Published on May 23, 2013 by Jes
Required reading in my senior or junior year I must confess I ran an purchased (No Amazon in 77') the cliffnotes but could always wanted to actually read James Joyce's classic and... Read morePublished on September 7, 2012 by Sonny Charlie Urbine
Mostly pompous, obtuse, pseudo-psychological gibberish. The major obscenity, which should never have been permitted by the USA legal system, the marketplace for literature, or the... Read morePublished on September 3, 2012 by Stanley J. Smits
First of all, I have not read this book. I gave it 3 stars because it's kind of a mid range. I don't see why there are comments talking about MISSING TEXT, E-BOOKS. . . Read morePublished on August 15, 2012 by Holly Golightly