Charity's Reviews > Ulysses

Ulysses by James Joyce
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Jan 28, 2010

did not like it
bookshelves: 1001books
Read in January, 2010

"...I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes."

Oh, how I love the movie Back to School!! And perhaps, if Sally Kellerman had sat and read Ulysses to me, I would have found it as enjoyable as Rodney Dangerfield did. Unfortunately, while I loved her reading of this section of Molly Bloom's soliloquy from Episode 18 (Penelope), I had to read 783 pages just to get to that section.

783 pages! 783 pages (virtually unreadable, mind you) of words strung together that only make sense if one has possession of the Rosetta Stone to decipher the meanings. 783 pages of pompous assery (yes, I coined the phrase) that I managed to endure. 783 pages of pain that I am all too happy to have put behind me.

At this point, I can only hope that some sadistic grad school professor doesn't assign it to me down the road. Unless, of course, it ends up being Sally Kellerman. Her voice is like warm milk at bedtime!

I must mention that my copy of Ulysses also included the decision of the United States District Court, rendered by Judge John M. Woolsey, lifting the ban on Ulysses. This was phenomenally written and practically made me want to reread Ulysses just to better understand Woolsey's feelings on the material (well, almost...I'm not quite that sick in the head). I would definitely give 5 stars to this portion of my edition.

I also enjoyed Joyce's letter to the publisher about the fight for the legalization and (legitimate) publication of Ulysses which was included in my edition. Too bad the text didn't read as well as Joyce's letter.
20 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Ulysses.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

01/06 page 55
7.02% 4 comments
01/20 page 429
54.79% 2 comments
01/27 page 816
100% 1 comment
06/17 marked as: read
show 11 hidden updates…

Comments (showing 1-50 of 83) (83 new)

Paquita Maria Sanchez Looks like you're still at the base of the mountain...

Charity Looks like you're still at the base of the mountain...

Yes, and unfortunately, it's Mount Everest. :-)

Manday literally 2 minutes before I got this update that you are reading this I was trying to figure out who I could read it with... lol

Charity Oh no! This book has been painful. Run far away! Save yourself!! It's too late for me!

In all honesty, I'm having a major struggle with this book (and all Joyce, in general), so I may not be the one you want to buddy up with as I go through daily bouts of throwing this book against the wall. However, there is a discussion thread currently active in TNBBC under the Wanna Discuss This Book? folder and they seem to be having a decent conversation about it. I haven't added my voice to the mix yet (as it is sure to be chock full of cynicism and bile), but I may join in once I start figuring out what the hell it is I'm actually reading here. :-)

message 5: by JSou (last edited Jan 08, 2010 07:58AM) (new)

JSou Thank God, I thought I was the only one. This is not going well for me either. I don't know, maybe I'm just not giving it the time and attention it deserves. I'm going to try and really get into it this weekend...hopefully it'll get better.

Charity I love you optimism, Jessica, but I don't know...have you flipped through the last 50 pages or so of the book? That alone is enough to make me wanna cry. Eek!

I hate that you're also suffering, but still, I'm also glad that it's not just me. Misery loves company and all that.

message 7: by Cait (last edited Jan 08, 2010 08:56AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Cait Charity and Jessica - Have you tried using a guide? I think the only reason I am "enjoying" this book is that I am concurrently reading the Ulysses section of Recovering Your Story: Proust, Joyce, Woolf, Faulkner, Morrison. And I say "enjoying" because it's still hard work and feels more like reading for school than for entertainment.
I can't imagine reading this book without a guide. I like to think of myself as a fairly intelligent person, but there's no effing way I'd be able to get through this at all (let alone with any insight) without someone holding my hand and explaining things along the way. There's also The New Bloomsday Book: A Guide Through Ulysses, but my library doesn't have a copy and I didn't want to buy it.

Charity No, I haven't tried any guides yet, Cait, but I may have to search for something online or check out the library today because this book is currently the bane of my existence. I always considered myself to be fairly intelligent also; however, reading this book without any assistance isn't proving to be too smart.

Thanks for the advice! Much appreciated!!

message 9: by JSou (new)

JSou I haven't tried any guides yet either, but I think I'll try and find one now. I've been reading the online synopsis on Wikipedia after each episode I read to make sure I haven't missed out on anything important though.

I've read some tips in people's reviews to help get through it.

1.) Just read through, don't try and understand it, JUST READ (Tried that, but that doesn't make it any more enjoyable.)

2.) Read along with a group or friend (I will say, it at least makes me want to keep going, no matter how torturous it gets...)

3.) Roll a joint, smoke away, and enjoy the ride (Which I'm seriously considering at this point.)

Um...yeah, maybe I'll try the guide first.

Charity LMAO, Jessica!

message 11: by Stacie (last edited Jan 08, 2010 10:44AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Stacie Don't give up guys...and I have told this to Charity, and to echo Cait, get a guide. It will make all the difference. The one that I used while reading was Ulysses Annotated. The annotated partnered with a reading partner makes all the difference in the world.

It really is worth the read.

message 12: by Jen (new)

Jen I'm sorry this was so painful for you, Charity, but your entertaining review may just make it worth it for the rest of us.

Stacie It just seems like you and Joyce will never be friends. I am sorry you didn't enjoy it.

Charity Jen,
I'm glad you are able to get such pleasure from my misery. :-)

What can I say? I, at least, gave him a shot (two shots, in fact). I'm pretty confident that my rendezvous with Joyce is O-V-E-R. In fact, the only thing that I can imagine would be worse than having Ulysses assigned to me is having Finnegans Wake assigned to me instead (which Sally Kellerman's character DID assign to her class in Back to School...what a bitch!). Oh the horror!!

That was so damn funny, I almost peed a little! I read on Wikipedia that Joyce once said he had "put in so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant". What a total wanker!! I'm thinking that the Korean guide would definitely make a lot more sense to me than Ulysses au naturale.

Having at least finished the behemoth (with all its self-indulgent, "riddle me this", circle-jerk nonsense) I feel I should at least get a t-shirt or commemorative mug or something. Like "I READ ULYSSES AND LIVED TO COMPLAIN ABOUT IT"? There just has to be a market for something like that.

message 15: by Jill (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jill I was not much of a fan. I got through it, but I think it took me a couple of years.

I feel bad for not liking it more. Hell, there's a very famous photo of Marilyn Monroe reading Ulysses. I'd like to think I'm at least as literary savvy as Ms. Monroe. Don't get me wrong, I love Marilyn and I personally think she must have been a pretty smart cookie to marry Arthur Miller, but if she can get through Ulysses with no trouble, why can't I?

Charity Ah, yes! The Marilyn photo. I'm quite familiar with it. :-)

I rather enjoy this guy's post on the subject. Who hasn't asked themselves, "If Marilyn can do it, why can't I?", after seeing that picture?

I'm just glad that I'm not alone on this.

message 17: by El (new) - rated it 2 stars

El My thing is I shouldn't have to get a guide to "get" a book. It's just like I learned in all my creative writing classes in college - if one has to explain to me what one meant by writing something, then it probably wasn't good to begin with. One's point should be self-evident. There was little self-evident about Ulysses, and I'm opposed to getting another book to explain the first book to me. I "got" enough of it to realize that it was just a bunch of jibber-jabber. Not a fan. And yes, I loved Homer.

message 18: by Jill (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jill Charity wrote: "Ah, yes! The Marilyn photo. I'm quite familiar with it. :-)

I rather enjoy this guy's post on the subject. Who hasn't asked themselves, "If Marilyn can do it, why can't I?", after seeing that pict..."

That's a great post. I like seeing people give Marilyn her due. She was no airhead. :)

message 19: by Molly (new)

Molly Charity - thanks for allowing me to laugh at your misery! That review was terrific. I am SCARED of Joyce. I think I would need to have some Joyce lover assign it to me and help me through it. Otherwise, it isn't gonna happen ;0)

message 20: by Shannon (new) - added it

Shannon I totally agree about enjoying the the Woolsey District Court decision more than the book itself. I have been trying to finish this book for the past five years...maybe the sixth year will be the charm.

Charity Awww, Andrew, that is the sweetest valentine ever! You are a prince among men. Are those some of the "big words" you know?

message 22: by El (new) - rated it 2 stars

El Haha! His profile says he knows lots of big words. That's very evident in his message to you. Good job, Andrew! Keep reading that dictionary. Maybe soon you can progress to non-profanities!

message 23: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer D Holy hell, that Andrew has a mouth on him, eh?

I am sorry this book was hell in words for you.

message 24: by Alex (new) - rated it 5 stars


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

Alex ps Andrew cried at the end of In Search of Lost Things.
I cried my eyes out when I finished this book and realized I would never learn anything else about them, never know anything about their lives, when I realized that they are all dead now, that our time together was over and that I could never share in the richness of M's nameless ruminations, dreams and observations.
Ruminations is a big word!

message 26: by Cait (new) - rated it 2 stars

Cait Unless Andrew is a pseudonym for James Joyce, I really don't understand his oh so elegantly phrased vitriol. Getting your panties in a wad because a stranger didn't like your favorite book? Sad, really. Were you abused as a child, Andrew? Or maybe you're feeling lonely and bitter and not handling the holiday very well? Please, tell me you have a good excuse for speaking so horribly to someone you've never met about something so damn inconsequential. Otherwise, take your twatishness somewhere else. (Hey, I never said I was a big word connoisseur.)

message 27: by El (new) - rated it 2 stars

El Alex wrote: "ps Andrew cried at the end of In Search of Lost Things."

Spoiler alert!! :)

Good call, Cait. I think Andrew needs a hug.

Charity I think Joyce would be pretty disappointed that you couldn't fussy up your filth a little better than that, Andrew. I'm not sure he would want you to be his fan. Tsk tsk.

message 29: by Cindy (new)

Cindy It's like the Twi-hards, but for Ulysses! Uly-hards?

message 30: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer D HA! Cindy's funny! :)

Asgar I don't want to become the target of any self-defensive ignorance, so I will insert an amiable emoticon to establish a pleasant tone. :)
There, now I shall get to the point...
The extract you posted of Molly Bloom's monologue is from the only chapter in the book that even uses that particular (difficult to appreciate) style. The narrative tones change with each chapter, and you are implying that the whole book consists of this lack-of-punctuation wall of text.
This particular style is his most extreme depiction of Stream of consciousness narrative. It illustrates true-thought, which is completely without structure and seemingly incoherent. Mind you, it isn't enough to say it is, in fact, incoherent.
Just felt the need to clear that up. :)

Charity Not sure you fully understand the point of my review, but I'm working on a guide to help people better understand it. Then it will be worthy of greatness. :)

message 33: by Cait (new) - rated it 2 stars

Cait Did Andrew delete his comment Charity, or did you? Either way, it makes us look kind of crazy. :oD

Asgar Charity:
Never mind actually, there probably is something I didn't get in your review, so I'll just trust you in that :)

Charity Yeah, Cait, either he did or GR did. For the curious, Andrew's comment went something like, "Shut the fuck up, you fucking cunt." Although, it is possible I left out a explitive or two, but you can get the gist.

Charity Sorry, Bodean, I'm being rather tongue-in-cheek, but I suppose that doesn't always translate well through text. I get what you are saying, however, I wasn't a fan of any part of the book. I felt that I either needed to have a guide to explain it all or be tripping on something pretty wicked to "get it," so I really don't think it's for me. I understand that many people love it and are completely giddy over deciphering all its layers, but I don't really think it is a novel for everyone. And, we can't love them all, right? Happy reading to you.

Asgar Janosch wrote: "This book is a pile of dookie! I cant take it anymore! All people who like this should ge see a shrink!!!"

It's a little naive to denigrate the book and its readership on the basis of your own ineptitude to comprehend the text. :)

Asgar I have read Ulysses, and so have many other people. I have only read small segments from Naked Lunch, and I would compare it to Finnegan's Wake, not Ulysses. Perhaps you are getting Finnegan's Wake confused with Ulysses?
Ulysses is entirely readable and has a linear structure and plot. If you believe otherwise, then you obviously haven't read it, and know nothing of it. Perhaps it's best you stick to writing your children's novels. ;)

message 39: by N (new)

N Thank god it's not just me!!

message 40: by [deleted user] (new)

You're a peon, all of you are peons, you're the bourgeois cultural debris that the ugliness of our society has yielded. If Joyce is too much for your narrow perception of what literature is, that's fine, go join the ranks with your other unimaginative buddies and read "Catcher in the Rye" or "To Kill a Mockingbird", but please to make your idiocy known to the world

Charity Whatevs. Piss off, tosser.

message 42: by El (new) - rated it 2 stars

El The most "unimaginative" attack is accusing someone for being unimaginative for not liking one's favorite book. Boy, is that criticism as old as the hills.

Why so defensive, Matthew? Overcompensating?

message 43: by Charity (last edited Sep 26, 2012 07:07PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Charity I'm tempted to reread this bullshit book again JUST so I can write another scathing review and enrage more Ulytards. OR, I could just bang my head against a wall for a few months straight.

message 44: by Marieke (new)

Marieke Sorry Charity, i haven't read your review yet, which i'm sure is brilliant, but this from Bo really made me laugh because i'm a big Janosch fan:

Perhaps it's best you stick to writing your children's novels. ;)

message 45: by Marieke (new)

Marieke that's the real Janosch leaving comments on your review? holy crap!

i'm sorry i'm totally not focused on Ulysses AT ALL.

Charity Marieke wrote: " that's the real Janosch leaving comments on your review? holy crap!

i'm sorry i'm totally not focused on Ulysses AT ALL."


message 47: by Marieke (new)

Marieke hahaha!

disclaimer: i do intend to try it someday but i have this weird plan to listen to the audio version. i don't know what will happen to my brain. i will let you know when it happens...

message 48: by Marieke (new)

Marieke and i just want to add one more thought, as someone who was born in and lived in germany at one point: janosch is the shit. seriously. i can't believe janosch left a comment about ulysses on your review. i'm truly having a "what just happened/this is really surreal moment." unless the joke is on me and that's not actually janosch at all.

message 49: by Marieke (new)

Marieke okay. so joke is on me. not the same janosch. this janosch is too young to be the janosch i'm thinking of. (apologies Janosch der Junger)

message 50: by [deleted user] (new)

El wrote: "The most "unimaginative" attack is accusing someone for being unimaginative for not liking one's favorite book. Boy, is that criticism as old as the hills.

Why so defensive, Matthew? Overcompensat..."

You know what's an unimaginitive attack? "Overcompensating", that's fucking what. The primates in "2001" would yawn at that joke

My anger is directed at society and all it's stupidity. You fools, why are you even reading this book, it wasn't written for your kind, it was written to offend and horrify your kind. "Ulysses" is not incoherent, it's an explosion of words coming deep from the subconscious of a man infinitely more intelligent than you and all your idiot friends combined, a man who represented everything the discontent intelectual stood for. No, the problem is in you idiots who shut your mind's off to anything that may seem unfamilar. You subhumans are why art in all it's forms, books, music, cinema, is a dead corpse being pissed on by society. Banal creatures, you are, banal, I say, and may your banality, your closed mindedness and fear of what you don't understand, may it be a source of endless misery for you

« previous 1
back to top