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I have a plan to re-read Ulysses, probably the most difficult and challenging work of literature ever published. Having read it in college, I couldn’t say I have understood it to the full extent, let alone enjoyed it. The book’s reputation for density, erudition, and inscrutability still daunts many readers, including myself. In spite of the glut of guidebooks, summaries, and annotations meant to accompany Ulysses, I have chosen to ignore them. I only remember, from the hasty read back in college, that it generously overflows with insight into the human experience, and it’s very, very funny. This time around, I’ll give myself plenty of time in indulge in the book, without time constraint. It’s okay to re-read passages and go track. But before tackling Ulysses, I decided to read A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, the first in Joyce’s whopping hat-trick of great novels, is both shorter and more approachable than either of Joyce’s later masterpieces. To say the least, it really unleashed the massive power of Joyce’s innovation and unconventionality upon the literary world. It lays the ground for Ulysses as the novel starts to make use of the famous (or infamous) Joycean techniques such as stream of consciousness narration, interiority (a revealing view of the character’s inner workings), and a very frank realism. In short, it’s Stephen Dedalus’ coming-of-age story and mirrors the author’s life up to age 20.


2 Responses

  1. Shamefully, I have not read any of his books.

    • In retrospection, I think James Joyce is meant for adult, mature readers. I was too young and flighty to even understand the scope when I was in college. I’m glad I’m discovery his works now at my own pace. 🙂

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