2009: 1. Ulysses

“Stately plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed.”

Ulysses, James Joyce

I will start out by straight up admitting that I am super pleased with myself for having finally read this book - and for having got something out of it, particularly because I powered through the novel over about three days on my vacation. Because I read it on vacation, with no access to any commentaries or the internet, etc., I am thinking I probably only got about 75% of what was going on, but I also think that is pretty good, because this is a difficult book to read.   Worth it, no question, but its reputation as a hard read is earned.  I am, as you may have gathered from reading this blog, not the biggest fan of fancy writing and modernism generally - I like well written books with good old fashioned plots best of all, and so I can’t say that I think that this is the best book written in the twentieth century, no matter what the Modern Library thinks*.  But it, clearly, a hell of a book.  I mean, you don’t need me to tell you that Ulysses is a great book, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it.  Especially because whenever I was just despairing over a section that was going on forever and I was just not appreciating, I would get hit by a section or a passage that knocked my socks off.  The entire funeral/graveyard section, for example, and the parts about childbirth (as well as anything about Bloom’s dead son) really hit me,  as did Bloom’s attempts to build a relationship with Stephen Dedalus (which might have more to do with my recent entry into parenthood than those parts being any better than any other parts).  I clearly will need to re-read Ulysses slowly some day, with commentary, so I can parse more meaning out of it, but I appreciated and even enjoyed what I got from it.


*I prefer their number two choice, The Great Gatsby, by a looooong shot


Date/Place Completed:  1/1/09; St. John’s USVI

Categories: Fiction,  Modern Library Top 100, Book Resolution (2008)

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017