Ulysses: Before the Chaos

Ulysses by James Joyce is notorious for its difficulty. My past experiences with stream-of-conscious narratives, such as those written by Viriginia Woolf, William Faulkner, and James Joyce’s The Portrait of an Artist As a Young Man haven’t been pretty, so I’m not expecting a different experience with Ulysses. Yet it is one of those books that appear on literally any best of list (Modern Library 100 Best 20th Century Novels, The Guardian’s 100 Greatest Novels of All Time, The World Library’s 100 Best Books of All Time, and I’m sure I could find many other lists that will inevitably include the book). For this reason, as someone who has formally studied literature in college and spends a great deal of time reading and writing about it post-college, I am a bit embarrassed  that I have not yet read Ulysses. Love it or hate it, it is considered an important novel and as someone interested in literature it is a gigantic hole in my knowledge (or at least it feels that way to me).

Originally I had planned to wait until summer to read it as that would give me plenty of time to read it slowly. The problem with that idea is this: Is that really how I want to spend my summer? Wouldn’t it be better to read more accessible classical literature and spend my free time on something I’ll enjoy more?

So instead I’m going to tackle Ulysses now. It will be different than my usual method. I won’t write a single post, but will try to respond to it chapter by chapter. More than likely I will probably give up before I finish it and move onto something else; I’ve been fickle lately with my reading, half-starting things and moving onto others.  But I plan to try! I will attempt to bravely face the chaos and use my words to give them some sort of coherence and order!

P. S. Also expect forthcoming posts on the books mentioned above (old posts from my old blog).



2 thoughts on “Ulysses: Before the Chaos

  1. Good luck! I did not exactly care for Mrs. Dalloway, and I almost gave it up, too, but I learned to read it like it did not have a plot. In that way, it was doable; but it was not exactly enjoyable. So your choosing to read it now instead of summer was probably a very good decision.

    I do look forward to see what you think b/c I hope to tackle Ulysses some day, as well.

    P.S. Have you ever read The Sound and the Fury? Again, it is another stream-of-consciousness style. Just curious.

    • I’ve read both Mrs. Dalloway and The Sound and the Fury. I even did a post on Dalloway, which I’ll probably transfer over in the future. I used to run a different book blog so I am slowly transferring over posts from there.

      I remember Mrs. Dalloway being difficult. It is at least short, whereas Ulysses is not. So far, though, Ulysses isn’t too bad when taken one chapter at a time. I’m actually kind of enjoying it.

      I’m always curious what people get out stream-of-conscious narratives who do enjoy it.

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