Excerpt: ...care. Complimented perhaps. Go home to nicey bread and milky and say night prayers with the kiddies. Well, aren't they? See her as she is spoil all. Must have the stage setting, the rouge, costume, position, music. The name too. Amours of actresses. Nell Gwynn, Mrs Bracegirdle, Maud Branscombe. Curtain up. Moonlight silver effulgence. Maiden discovered with pensive bosom. Little sweetheart come and kiss me. Still, I feel. The strength it gives a man. That's the secret of it. Good job I let off there behind the ...
Excerpt: ...care. Complimented perhaps. Go home to nicey bread and milky and say night prayers with the kiddies. Well, aren't they? See her as she is spoil all. Must have the stage setting, the rouge, costume, position, music. The name too. Amours of actresses. Nell Gwynn, Mrs Bracegirdle, Maud Branscombe. Curtain up. Moonlight silver effulgence. Maiden discovered with pensive bosom. Little sweetheart come and kiss me. Still, I feel. The strength it gives a man. That's the secret of it. Good job I let off there behind the wall coming out of Dignam's. Cider that was. Otherwise I couldn't have. Makes you want to sing after. Lacaus esant taratara. Suppose I spoke to her. What about? Bad plan however if you don't know how to end the conversation. Ask them a question they ask you another. Good idea if you're stuck. Gain time. But then you're in a cart. Wonderful of course if you say: good evening, and you see she's on for it: good evening. O but the dark evening in the Appian way I nearly spoke to Mrs Clinch O thinking she was. Whew! Girl in Meath street that night. All the dirty things I made her say. All wrong of course. My arks she called it. It's so hard to find one who. Aho! If you don't answer when they solicit must be horrible for them till they harden. And kissed my hand when I gave her the extra two shillings. Parrots. Press the button and the bird will squeak. Wish she hadn't called me sir. O, her mouth in the dark! And you a married man with a single girl! That's what they enjoy. Taking a man from another woman. Or even hear of it. Different with me. Glad to get away from other chap's wife. Eating off his cold plate. Chap in the Burton today spitting back gumchewed gristle. French letter still in my pocketbook. Cause of half the trouble. But might happen sometime, I don't think. Come in, all is prepared. I dreamt. What? Worst is beginning. How they change the venue when it's not what they like. Ask you do you like mushrooms because she once knew a...
A recent article in the New York Times Book Review called "Ulysses" overrated, and indeed it is. James Joyce is full of erudition, secret jokes, cleverness, and allusions. But do we really benefit from reading it? Does it grip you? Do you feel for the characters? Or did you read it because it was required reading in a literature class? Incidentally, when the book first appeared, the New York Times Book Review gave "Ulysses" a bad review. It was right then. "Ulysses" is a feat, but that doesn't make it important or even good literatrure. Be skeptical about what those English professors say. Just because they read it doesn't mean you have to.
May 26, 2011
A Joy to Savor
Ulysses...I don't read it to be pretentious or for anything but to savor a great and entertaining trip through Dublin with two of the most likeable guides ever written, Stephen and Leopold (Poldy). I love every chapter, even if Nighttown makes my head spin. Stephen the young artist looking to find his way and fight off the ties binding him to poverty and failure; Poldy, a man who's been beaten down by the world but never loses his joy in life and his kindness to all. I won't get fancy...Others have written brilliant essays on this book and I would recommend reading them...But I would say, you cheat yourself if you don't read this book cover to cover, slowly and carefully. It's a readable work if you give it attention and it's worth the effort.
Mar 18, 2008
Worth Every Bit of Work
This book is tough, and I strongly recommend a companion text such as "The New Bloomsday Book" by Harry Blamires. "Ulysses" is the story of Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom as a modern day "Odyssey" and is one of the richest texts I have ever encountered. The stream of consciousness technique Joyce employs is hard to get used to if you haven't read "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man", but it really gets you inside the character's head. In short: read this book!
Aug 15, 2007
It should be said first of all that James Joyce's Ulysses is a comic masterpiece. If it employs modernist experimental techniques such as interior monologue, stream-of-consciousness, multiple narrative styles, a mythic subtext that parallels Homer's Odyssey, and a daunting modernist difficulty in tracing the intersecting patterns of its three main characters, Stephen Dedalus, Leopold Bloom, and his wife Molly Bloom on a single day in Dublin (now celebrated there as Bloomsday), it's also often incredibly funny and imparts to the reader the characters' internal--both mental and bodily--sensations as they navigate through this day.
Dedalus, the protagonist of Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, is close to Joyce's surrogate, and the novel opens with Dedalus living in the Martello Tower outside of Dublin where the author once lived. His companion Buck Mulligan is given to rather gross epithets: "The snotgreen sea. The scrotumtightening sea." In contrast, Dedalus favors the philosophical and literary: "ineluctable modality of the visible."
Both Leopold and Molly Bloom are more earthy figures and their interior monologues are accordingly so, which is why Ulysses was brought up on obscenity charges and eventually cleared of them (clearly, the novel isn't to everyone's taste; Virginia Woolf found it vulgar). There is a sense in both characters of an acknowledgment of the corporeal, the fleshy, the riotous material world of objects.
Of course Molly Bloom's soliloquy that ends the novel is the most notorious example: "O that awful deepdown torrent O and the sea the sea crimson sometimes like fire and the glorious sunsets and the figtrees in the Alameda gardens yes and all the queer little streets and pink and blue and yellow houses and the rosegardens and the jasmine and geraniums and cactuses and Gibraltar as a girl where I was a Flower of the mountain. . .and yes I said yes I will Yes."
No question it's a daunting read; Stuart Gilbert's critical study James Joyce's Ulysses would be helpful to have on the bedside table. On the other hand, it's quite possible that postmodern fiction, which has incorporated and taken for granted modernist experimentation, and cinematic devices of the French New Wave like the jump cut have made this early 20th century text a bit more approachable.
As novelist Anthony Burgess observed, even masterpieces can have arid patches, and the parody of a Jesuitical interrogation, for example, dragged on this reader. There are parts that are a slog. And in the interest of full disclosure, this reviewer has read the novel only once and roughly 30 years ago--I've probably read more critical studies--but at the same time that first and only reading was vivid and unforgettable as a flame in the mind: the Nighttown sequence, Bloom's encounter with Bertie MacDowell at the seashore, and yes Molly Bloom's soliloquy. Joyce renders the fragmentation of modern consciousness, and encapsulates a world in one day. Surrender yourself to Ulysses and you'll undergo a sea-change. And by the way, it's often a hoot.
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