The first time I heard of Ulysses, I was in my friend’s home looking through her parents’ extensive library. When it comes to libraries, my attention automatically is captivated by books. I marvel at them and the secrets they hold in their pages. My friend showed me a book that she attempted to read. This book was Ulysses by: James Joyce. She told me that she had tried to read the book as she knew that it was supposedly a “great work of literature,” but it was incomprehensible.
Years later, I ended up registering for a course on Modern British Literature. The interesting thing about registering for a university course months in advance is that the reading list is sprung upon you at the last minute. A month before the winter term began, I was sent an email with the reading list. 1984 by: George Orwell, To the Lighthouse by: Virginia Woolf, The Loved One by: Evelyn Waugh, Heart of Darkness by: Joseph Conrad, The Return of the Soldier by: Rebecca West, and finally… Ulysses by: James Joyce.
My mind wandered back to when my friend showed me the large brick-of-a-book while telling me how confusing Ulysses was. Did I stand a chance? Even so, I did not back out of the course. Which brings me to present day. I am currently tackling this 900-page novel that no one understands. As I am writing this, I have just finished chapter 5 – “The Lotus Eaters”. I will attempt to write one blog post per chapter and explain my thoughts on each chapter.
It won’t be easy…
Before I end up springing this mumbo-jumbo of a book along with my observations upon you, I shall attempt to provide a little background info on Ulysses.
The novel is supposed to be a modern-day (20th century) remake of Homer’s epic poem, The Odyssey. The Odyssey is about a man’s journey home after fighting in the Trojan war. Ulysses is about… well… I’m not sure, and I don’t think anyone knows for sure. Basically, it is the day in the life of one Irish man in the year 1904 which includes nearly every thought that passes through his mind throughout the day. Ulysses was published in 1922 in the United States, it was subsequently banned until 1933.
Ulysses is broken up into 18 chapters which are supposed to reflect the 18 books of The Odyssey. Each chapter is told in a different style (which I will get into later).
As I have a lot to say about this frustrating book, I will make 18 posts (one chapter per post) and share my frustrations and any interesting tid-bits that may help you in your reading of Ulysses whether right now or in the future.
Until next time,
Written on February 6th, 2017