I read this tremedously controversial, beloved, despised, misunderstood, and fantastically rich book as the result of losing our "penny bet" one year.I read this tremedously controversial, beloved, despised, misunderstood, and fantastically rich book as the result of losing our "penny bet" one year. It proved to be one of the most rewarding and truly fun reads of my life. I lit into it with the help of Stuart Gilbert's famous guidebook, and as I went along, made many library visits to look up other ancillary material that made the journey that much more rewarding. You have to read this book, at least the first time and probably thereafter, with the help of such guides, and there have been many many published over the years. I compare this book to another of my favorites, Moby Dick, in that each chapter in each book is a unique, new thing, in a different style and telling a story in different ways. With Joyce the process of reading turns into an adventure of puzzle-solving and intricate and enjoyable wordplay. There is not much about Ulysses that I can add on top of the decades of astute scholarship on the book, so I will just talk about my journey through it.
I would read one chapter of the Gilbert guide, then read the corresponding chapter of Ulysses. In this way I knew what I was getting into and could enjoy the verbal games and mythological references and sheer brilliance of style that much more.
You've got a story of sorts going on, sure. It is fun to follow Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus in their journeys through the Dublin of a single day. But the style of the telling is what is most special about this book. It really is like a book of games or puzzles, or an interesting video adventure game with conundrums to solve all along the way. I am thinking right now of chapter 17, which is entirely told in question and answer form, a catechism.
The book has invited so much controversy and so much scholarship because it is hugely rich! Each chapter corresponds to an episode that Odysseus faces in The Odyssey. Each is in a completely different style, telling its story in a radically different way. All of our human senses are engaged reading this rich slice of life.
Well, I feel a little silly writing these comments about a book that's been talked about constantly since its publication. My conclusion: if you have not read it, grab the Stuart Gilbert guide and maybe a few others and begin this fantastically engaging and utterly enjoyable journey!
Reading this book changed my mind about Hemingway. I grew up in the 60s, and inherited a lot of negative ideas about Hemingway, just by living at thatReading this book changed my mind about Hemingway. I grew up in the 60s, and inherited a lot of negative ideas about Hemingway, just by living at that time. But when I read the short stories, I saw what a fantastic prose stylist he was, and how he really remade the language. His idea of putting an entire landscape on one level, like a Cezanne painting, so the whole thing can be looked at with all the different parts getting equal weight--that came clear to me, especially when reading Big Two-Hearted River. I adore the description in that story. ...more
Not just a poetry anthology, this great collection is actually an idea, or an entire argument in several parts, illustrated by well-chosen poems. OrigNot just a poetry anthology, this great collection is actually an idea, or an entire argument in several parts, illustrated by well-chosen poems. Originally published by Sierra Club Books in 1980, the version out now seems to date from 1995. Robert Bly put this book together, and his introductions to each new section are brilliant. The concept explored here is Western civilizations's relationship to nature. Bly argues that we have come a long distance in the past several hundred years (though it seems to me we have taken steps backwards since the original publishing date of this book!) The poems start in the time of Decartes, with the idea that nature is a rich possession of humankind, to be exploited and used with joy. They poems here are fierce and bold and confident and frightening. From there, the arc swings through the romantic era, when poems showed a big shift in consciousness in ideas of nature. Without recounting each section, the overall concept is that nature has a tremendous power all its own, and that ancient societies realized this and often honor it, but that we in the west have moved away from that idea considerably, and are just starting to realize and embrace it again. The poems are good and exciting exemplars of these ideas. A rich collection that takes you on a journey through these concepts. ...more
A magnificent, huge, complicated and intriguing tale. Or really a series of great stories, one after the other. I came to know and love the principalA magnificent, huge, complicated and intriguing tale. Or really a series of great stories, one after the other. I came to know and love the principal characters. They are all utterly distinct. This is, of course, one of the great national epics of India. But there was much to enjoy for this Jersey boy, too. The stories have real passion and drama, and the magical powers gained by the protagonists as well as their adversaries give them a feel of being superheroes. I really loved this book. There is much spiritual depth here, many questions to answer. Just one small section of the original epic is the Bhagavad-gita! Why does Krishna act as he does? Well, these few words give mighty short shrift to this modern version of one of the world's great epics. But I just want to emphasize that the book, this version, is very readable and fantastically enjoyable. ...more
You only have to read the first, amazing sentence of this book to see if it hooks you or not. I read it and it hooked me hard. The wonderment: what isYou only have to read the first, amazing sentence of this book to see if it hooks you or not. I read it and it hooked me hard. The wonderment: what is going on here? It took me years to get up the wherewithal to actually continue reading and complete the book. And it was a magnificent journey for me, a wild unfolding of Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha nightmare. The book hit me so hard that I immediately planned and took a trip down to Oxford, Mississippi to soak in some more Faulkner vibes. The trip and the book that inspired it were very deep, very rewarding. If you love words and stand in utter astonishment at what some few geniuses have done with them, then read that first sentence. . .and see where it might take you....more