Ian [Paganus de] Graye's Reviews > Ulysses

Ulysses by James Joyce
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Mar 02, 12

bookshelves: reviews, read-2011, exert-yourself, reviews-5-stars, joycean-tales-of-brave-ulysses
Read from June 28 to August 01, 2011

100 Words in Search of a Precis (For Those of Us Who Prefer the Short Form of Stimulation)

“Ulysses” is a snapshot of one day’s life, with us watching from our couch as if we were watching the Simpsons.

Its meaning is a creative joint venture between author and reader and, equally likely, other readers.

Bloom sees sex as procreation and a continuation of himself, his journey, his culture, his legacy into the future.

Ultimately, "Ulysses" is Joyce's gift to his wife, Nora, the mother of his son (George), the mother of his daughter (Lucia).

“Ulysses” is the container, the receptacle (dare I say it, the Holy Grail?), the womb that holds all of this love, and more.


Completed Review: August 25, 2011

My Review is here:

http://www.goodreads.com/story/show/2...


Reading Notes

My Reading Notes are here:

http://www.goodreads.com/story/show/2...


Original Drunken Book Review: March 6, 2011

Warning: Some alcoholic substances were consumed by the author of this review. The rest, though regrettably significant in quantity, were consumed by the keyboard of his thirsty desktop computer, which wishes to state on its own behalf and in its own defence that none of the opinions expressed in this review reflect its opinions or state of mind at the time.


Things I'm Prepared to Swear About

I do solemnly swear that I bought this book today, 6 March, 2011.
It only cost $16, which was a bargain.
It has a different cover, but that's cool, I hope.
It's based on the 1960 translation from the English.
It's 933 pages long, but the font size is much bigger than I feared, so I'm OK with that.
I think of it as value for money in this era when the counter culture has been superseded by the over-the-counter culture (or should that be the uber-counter culture for us Buffy fans?).


Upside Down and Inverted

I haven't been able to find any inverted commas in my version.
This might mean that this book is all action and no dialogue.
Or it might mean that they hadn't invented inverted commas in the days of Ulysses.
Either that or they were all uninverted then.


The March of a Thousand Wikipedes

I am thinking of writing all of the headings from the Wikipedia article on Ulysses at the beginning of each chapter (in pencil, in case someone edits them while I'm reading the book), because I'm sure it will aid comprehension.


My Mother, a Clear Mind and Anthony Burgess

My mother always said that a clear mind aids comprehension.
However, I'm not prepared to stop drinking for as long as it takes me to read the "Greatest Novel of the Century" (Anthony Burgess, Observer).
I don't know who Anthony Burgess is (I haven't checked his WP article, if he's got one).
However, this dude needs to seriously update his opinion.
Everybody knows that Ulysses was written last century, der (I've just realised I don't know how to spell "der". If only I could txt in my revu, sir).


Another Observation by a Different Observer

You can bet that my review won't just say I'm an Observer.
I'm going to proudly proclaim that I am the 12,975th most popular Good Reads reviewer of the first week of March, 2011 (how contemporary can you get)?


Should I Really Be Committed?

Well, that's my review of the front and back cover and an arbitrarily chosen page in the middle (unfortunately, for a supposedly dirty book, it didn't fall open on any particular page).
I suppose I should commit to reading it now.
I must admit that, despite the font size, I still find this task daunting.
Everybody I know says that reading Ulysses requires a lifetime of commitment.
I don't think I'm ready for a lifetime of commitment.
I'm a male, for dog's sake.


Conspicuous Impressivism

However, I do promise to leave it somewhere conspicuous, where impressionable people (the "impressionista") can see it and be suitably impressionistic.
If they say, "Shit, have you read Ulysses?", I'll be honest and say, "Only enough to write a 600 word review for an online journal of opinion read by 13,000 highly opinionated professional opinionists, der".
I don't know how many words I've actually written. I can't work out how to use Word Count on Good Reads. But who's counting, we're all readers here!


A Show of Great Promise

So what should I promise?
I do solemnly and sincerely swear a lot, but not idly, and in order not to be deemed idol, I promise to read one chapter by the end of this financial year.
In fact, I'm feeling kinda sporty now.


III, II, I, Blast Off

Hang on, what's this bit at the beginning with the strange page numbering? lxxv, lxxvi? Roman numerals. I'll skip that.
There's a reason why Latin is a dead language.
If their words are all cactus, why should their numbers count?
Show me the greatest novel of the last century and I'll show you a book that's English.
Now, "Stately, plump Buck Mulligan..."
Gees, I'm into it already.


Completed Review: August 25, 2011

My Review is here:

http://www.goodreads.com/story/show/2...
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Reading Progress

07/24/2011 page 241
31.0%
07/28/2011 page 281
36.0% "I'm sitting here thinking, if I turn it around this way, no that way, hang on here's another way, I will prevail over this Rubik's Cube of a novel. However, in the manner of a Rubik's Cube and unlike tantric sex (no, I never mastered that either), I think its secrets might actually be better revealed if I just forget about the pleasure principle and get it over and done with really, really quickly."
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Comments (showing 1-50 of 53) (53 new)


Velvetink I have mine in the house somewhere - read it long ago, should give it another try & attempt to review it but I have this procrastination monkey on my back I'm fighting with just now.


message 2: by Ian (last edited Mar 06, 2011 06:49PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian [Paganus de] Graye You gotta get that monkey off your back.
So you can get your writing back on track.
Ignore Julia and Kevin
And just count from one to seven

If Telemachus is 1
Then Nestor is 2
Then Proteus is 3
Calypso, what you waiting 4?

If man is 5
Then the devil is 6
Then god is 7
This monkey's gone to heaven.


Velvetink Ha! good one. 10 points. Though it's not Julia and Kevin bothering me. ;D


Velvetink Anthony Burgess was a strange and brilliant fellow...the author of A Clockwork Orange & others, he also wrote a couple of books on Joyce.
http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/...


message 5: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian [Paganus de] Graye Thanks, V.
I am actually a bit of a fan of Anthony Burgess.
It's the drunk who came in and typed that review on my computer who doesn't know of him!
Hope you're well.
As Carole King would say, you've got a friend.


message 6: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian [Paganus de] Graye I've still got 28 days to read the first chapter. Yippee.


Velvetink Have you started it?


message 8: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian [Paganus de] Graye I've got as far as "Stately, plump Buck Mulligan..."
I want to finish Prague, before I start Dublin.
"Paralytic Tonight, Dublin Tomorrow."


Velvetink "Paralytic Tonight, Dublin Tomorrow." = I like that!

My reading has slowed & can't settle on anything in particular...feel like I'm reading to beat the GR challenge clock Vs my assignments and exams (2 biggies loom) - I've been looking for my copy of Joyce everywhere, seems to be lost - but hope to pick one up in Sydney next week - have to jaunt down to Broadway so making a stop at the basement bookstore. :D


message 10: by Ian (last edited Jun 02, 2011 04:32AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian [Paganus de] Graye When are you going to be in Sydney?
I arrive Wednesday and come home Friday.


Velvetink Not sure yet Mon or Tue, but I have to meet my father so it's complicated -


message 12: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Ha! I'm waiting with bated breath to see how you review this one!


message 13: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian [Paganus de] Graye I was thinking about committing to reading one chapter a month, but I just checked and there's only three chapters.


message 14: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian [Paganus de] Graye OK, I've worked out the 18 episodes and I've set up a word document with page numbers and everything.


message 15: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa You know about this? http://anzlitlovers.wordpress.com/tag...
It's got lots of useful links to sites by non-boring non-pompous people who (unlike me) know what they're talking about. And nice pictures, don't miss the link on The Lestrygonians post. There's even the occasional music video, and somewhere (I forget where) there's a link to a CD you can buy of the music JJ refers to...


message 16: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian [Paganus de] Graye Wow, thanks, Lisa, I've had a quick scan through the first pages, but will let you know when I'm ready to start and revisit your site.


Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly I am watching. It would be exciting to see your spaceship either reach the moon or explode in midair.


message 18: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian [Paganus de] Graye Ha ha. I might have to use a different vessel in another passage.
I have assembled my vulgar boatmen in readiness for Episode 1 here:

http://www.goodreads.com/story/show/2...


message 19: by Bennet (new)

Bennet Wow -- hot off the Lolita board and on to Ulysses. You are relentless and amazing. I look forward to reading vicariously through your posts.

Some music for the journey.

Ulysses
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kaXXTF...


David Katzman Did you know that you were quoting from a Pixies song?

Or were the Pixies quoting something that you were quoting?

Monkey gone to heaven.


Julia Boechat Machado A tip from William Faulkner: "You should approach Joyce's Ulysses as the illiterate Baptist preacher approaches the Old Testament: with faith."

Hope it helps.


message 22: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian [Paganus de] Graye David wrote: "Did you know that you were quoting from a Pixies song?

Or were the Pixies quoting something that you were quoting?

Monkey gone to heaven."


Yeah, I was just riffing on V's monkey and the Pixies' lyric.
Great band, great song.


David Katzman nice.


message 24: by Ian (last edited Jul 09, 2011 07:48PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian [Paganus de] Graye Julia wrote: "A tip from William Faulkner: "You should approach Joyce's Ulysses as the illiterate Baptist preacher approaches the Old Testament: with faith."

Hope it helps."


Thanks, Julia.

I've read a bit more on a lengthy plane trip that I've just returned from, but haven't written up my notes yet.
I must have the faith that's necessary, because so far it's been a breeze (at least at the superficial level of what's on the page. divorced from any references I mightn't have got).
I think the hardest thing is making the decision to start.
Now I'm kicking myself I didn't start earlier in my life.


message 25: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian [Paganus de] Graye My reading notes on Episode 1 are here:

http://www.goodreads.com/story/show/2...


message 26: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian [Paganus de] Graye Completed Review: August 25, 2011 Version

My completed Review is here:

http://www.goodreads.com/story/show/2...

I will leave my Drunken Book Review on this page, because it has received likes in its own right.


message 27: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian [Paganus de] Graye A comment on my review from Phillip on the James Joyce Reading Group discussion of "Ulysses":

"an original approach to reviewing the book - what i like best about it is that you created your own ways of framing the narrative ... perhaps the review says more about you and the process of reviewing than it says about the book ... and that's fair enough because, as you have learned with this reading, Ulysses is a meta-reading experience - it changes the way you read - and it connects you to many readings and points of departures. in this way, the structure of your review is a lot like reading Ulysses - well done! each one of the sections offered a nice tidbit (joyce would have said epiphany) of "a-HA!"

Thanks, Phillip


Aloha Ooh, I am up for the challenge. I have a complex book addiction now.


message 29: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian [Paganus de] Graye Aloha, make sure you read the actual review here:

http://www.goodreads.com/story/show/2...

Like 1Q84, hardly anybody seems to have found it.


message 30: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian [Paganus de] Graye I'm glad you called "Ulysses" complex, rather than hard or difficult.


Aloha Complex is fun. Hard or difficult is not. This depends on how you find the book. 1Q84 I find complex. Complexity is fun, like figuring out puzzles.


message 32: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian [Paganus de] Graye Fun is an interstitial between complexity and simplicity, hence the pleasure potential of simplexity.


Aloha I think it was during Simplexity that all the educated people were killed in A Canticle for Leibowitz. The actual term was Simplification.


message 34: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian [Paganus de] Graye I'm waiting to be wined and dined by your review of that book.

Also check out my profile photo:

http://www.goodreads.com/photo/user/5...


Aloha LOL. My opinion of it has not changed, but my temper is gone. I probably will give it 1 or 2 stars more even if I think the book contained sermons of the Roman Catholic ilk. If people can rave about it just because they find it inspirational, why can't I throw it against the wall and give it a 1 star rating if I find it offensive?


message 36: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian [Paganus de] Graye Your temper might be gone, but then sometimes revenge is a dish best served cold.

We should investigate:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simplexity

http://www.simplexitybook.com/

And then we could invent simchronicity.


message 37: by Riku (new) - added it

Riku Sayuj I so want to start this - for 5 years now. The wonderful edition (with the cap and the ink stained title below) has been forlorn on my shelf that long.


message 38: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian [Paganus de] Graye Forlorn, but not for long.


message 39: by Riku (new) - added it

Riku Sayuj Ian wrote: "Forlorn, but not for long."

:) Indeed. I think I'll muster some courage and start it today. If I do finish it (and appreciate it) then indebtedness would be a mild word to use.


message 40: by Carly (new)

Carly Ian wrote: "OK, I've worked out the 18 episodes and I've set up a word document with page numbers and everything."

OMG! Man after me own heart ... I've been using the draft docs on OUtlook ... do a lot of my writing that way.


message 41: by Riku (last edited Feb 15, 2012 09:35AM) (new) - added it

Riku Sayuj what are the must read books to understand Ulysses to a satisfactory level?


message 42: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian [Paganus de] Graye Riku, the one book you need is "Ulysses" itself.

I have a number of books on the following shelf:

http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/...

The one I consulted most frequently was the Matthew Hodgart one, because it was short and had useful chapter summaries.

The wiki entry is also useful.

But ultimately I decided that "Ulysses" is a multiple reading adventure and I decided that my first experience had to be to read for the pleasure of the words, rather than the allusions.

Each episode is just a collection of words in a different style.

It's important not to let it intimidate you.

You can come back later for more informed or laborious readings.

But by then you will have a feel for the pleasures of the novel.

Also, see the advice here:

http://biblioklept.org/2010/06/16/how...


message 43: by Riku (new) - added it

Riku Sayuj Ian wrote: "Riku, the one book you need is "Ulysses" itself.

I have a number of books on the following shelf:

http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/...

T..."


Oh I didn't mean books about joyce's work. I meant the sources that Joyce himself drew on.


message 44: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian [Paganus de] Graye Sorry, Homer's "Odyssey".

http://library.thinkquest.org/19300/d...

Still, my answer would be the same: read it first as self-contained.


message 45: by Riku (new) - added it

Riku Sayuj Ian wrote: "Sorry, Homer's "Odyssey".

http://library.thinkquest.org/19300/d...

Still, my answer would be the same: read it first as self-contained."


Of course I knew of Odyssey :)

So the book is more or less self-contained work once you subtract Odyssey from it?

By the way what is the reason for your sustained interest?


message 46: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian [Paganus de] Graye It is Everyman's 24 hour Odyssey through the known (and knowable) World (as represented by Dublin).

You can find every aspect of Life in this novel, as if it were a holy scripture (or a profane and unholy script) that you return to, each time with new eyes and more context and greater experience.

It's like a mirror to the world. Every time you peer into it, something will look slightly different, not because the book is changing, but because we do and our relationship with it does.

I don't mean to say it is self-contained.

I mean that your first reading should treat it "as if" it is self-contained.


message 47: by Riku (new) - added it

Riku Sayuj Ian wrote: "It is Everyman's 24 hour Odyssey through the known (and knowable) World (as represented by Dublin).

You can find every aspect of Life in this novel, as if it were a holy scripture (or a profane an..."


Thanks for the patience to indulge my questions. Will get back to this after the prescribed weeks.


message 48: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian [Paganus de] Graye Have fun and please return to tell your story.


message 49: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian [Paganus de] Graye I've just inserted a 100 word precis (of my longer review) at the beginning of the review on this page.


message 50: by Tuck (new)

Tuck Ian wrote: "You gotta get that monkey off your back.
So you can get your writing back on track.
Ignore Julia and Kevin
And just count from one to seven

If Telemachus is 1
Then Nestor is 2
Then Proteus is 3
Ca..."


hah, thanks Ian, now I don't have to read it. my lifetime is too short?


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