Published on March 26th, 2014 | by Michaela Buckley0
Ulysses – James Joyce
Wow, this placed has turned into a ghost town, eh? I guess reading Ulysses leaves little else on your social plate, what with it being over 900 pages, I suppose re-reading it after getting half way through didn’t help matters either.
Now I am neither clever enough nor patient enough to give this a proper review or essay on it, besides, one can find them anywhere, so instead I am just going to give some thoughts that I have on this, and perhaps when I am a little older and wiser, I can laugh at this fool here. God, I hope I get older and wiser instead of just dead or stupid and perhaps even worse, married.
The plot follows the ups and downs of Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus, drawing many parallels between them and Odysseus and Telemachus, but goes on to evolve into further, more complex themes, with allusions to theology, technology and war.
I’ve read hardly any Irish literature, at least not many that aren’t fantasy, and fewer still ones that grasp Irish culture. I was asked whilst reading, what Ulysses is about, and having some more time to think about an answer, I would describe it as ‘a quintessential day in the life of two men in Dublin’, which is a whole lot better than ‘a man who goes about to a funeral’, which was all I afforded at the time.
The book is known as one of the best of all time, so you can expect some pretty pukka writing, which incorporates many different forms during one of the chapters and all kinds of wonderful and amazing literary techniques which have been analysed to death by now, but as general reading goes, I enjoyed the fast-paced descriptive writing, and the dialogue is surprisingly witty. However, this book is a slog and no mistake. The overwhelming length of sentences and the almost surreal edge to the chapters, give this book a really heavy pacing, (after all it is only one day that passes in the book) which on journeys, simply put me to sleep.
Joyce’s real craft is the creation of dialogue and perspective, each of the characters is a carefully designed and unique person, without being a stereotype, the character’s behaviours are not overwhelmingly shocking, the usual sign of bad writing. His various styles of writing, depending on the character and the situation, always brings a level of depth that I have not seen in other books. Like Shakespeare, Joyce is aware of the craft, creating a piece that is self-mocking, yet also easily embraced by outsiders.
The culimination of all this, is that, it ultimately belongs to the crop of books like “In Search of Lost Time” that deserve to be read when one is fully capable of understanding it, I am probably not going to drag myself through another novel like this, at least not merely for a false sense of prestige, as, if you don’t fully understand or appreciate it, that makes the whole venture pointless.