Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Having Survived 'Ulysees'

Every year I choose books to read ten page at a time. Last Christmas it was the turn of James Joyce's Ulysees. I read Molly's final Yes I will Yes on March 31. I rather like the symmetry.

Of course I needed a study guide, but mine was little help. The academic writing was denser than James Joyce and a damn sight less entertaining. And no, I did not re-read The Odyssey before my first journey to Sandymount Cove. I do know and love Purcell's Dido and Aeneas and Berlioz Les Troyens but I can't say the helped much in the Dublin of June 16, 1904. Here's a lovely sight of that Dublin:


I loved this book. I was a bit relieved to see it end in the way you are relieved at the end of a long race. You don't come in first but maybe in the top 100.
What I especially loved is the diction. Molly, Leopold, Steven, Blazes Boylan and the scene in the pub
reminded me so much of my grandparents. My grandmother never set foot in a pub as far as I know, but I can hear her voice discussing Paddy Digman's endless wake and funeral.

The idea of eating a pork kidney is repellent. Molly Bloom makes me think of dirty knickers.She's either just getting out of bed or plotting to get back in-with whom is the question.

Catholicism is invoked n the first line, as Buck Mulligan prepares to shave singing "Introibo ad altarei dei". The church is set up with Leopold Bloom is Jewish, yet can still enjoy a good wake, Glory be to God. The structure that had me guffawing was Episode 17-Ithaca--it's nothing less than the Roman Catholic Catechism. From the austerity of the questions to the windy replies.

We are spared nothing, from Molly's kickers to Leopold pooping, to dialogue reflecting the crunch of shells
underfoot. James Joyce was either supremely talented or crazy as hell. I think they go together.
Sylvia Beach, owner of the Shakespeare and Company bookstore, published Ulysses in 1922 and was nearly arrested for her pains. How I would have loved to have spent a day in her bookstore, with Joyce at the tea table and Hemingway arguing and Stein and Toklas glaring and huffing out.

I'm not writing this very well. I'm incapable of writing about Ulysees in a linear way. But I loved it.

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