Deepak Pitaliya

I have tried reading this book twice but could not get past 30-40 pages. I even read Iliad and Odyssey before starting this book as the book is supposed to draw some parallel with Odyssey. Is it readable?

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Rene Quezada You can and should read the Shmoop Summaries of each episode after reading the episode. Understand, and accept that you will not understand everything, most, or maybe even half of the text on your first reading. The Shmoop summaries are fantastic, concise, and simplify everything into the normal linear narrative style that Joyce worked so hard to avoid and reject. They're written as bullet points. Also read each episode individually, and if you can take a break in between, each episode is written in slightly or even vastly different style which makes the novel more freeform jazz than it does verse-chorus-verse pop song.

Here you go... Start Here:
Jeffrey Deitz Better than read it . ..listen to it! Then you'll see and feel what all the shouting is about. I had tried Ulyssesseveral times myself and couldn't wrap my head around the written word. Reading Gilbert Sturt, referring
to the Giffords no tes made things even more mind-numbing.

Then, in a last ditch effort I downloaded the Audible version. Once I heard the book professionallly narrated I entered the Promised land (which btw is a big theme in the novel) and a whole new world opened.

Recorded books spent a year working with the Joyce family and hired incredible Irish actor Donol Donnelly fo narrate all the episodes except Penelope, read by a terrfic Irish actress. Its like listening to music, smetimes lyric; somtimes sardonic; always engaging, as if the book were written to be recited.

It takes a great actor to switch intonation and give all the story's narrators their own unique voice; so you can hear when we drift into Stephen's or Leopold's stream of consciosnous, or when we move back into third person omnicient. For me- and I'm a serious classics nerd-the recorded book is 1000% ivelier and more engaging than slogging through the book, wondering which point of view the reader is in at any given momen,

The end result: an enchanting world of incredible humor, satire, parody, romaticism and pure old Irish poetry await. If you still hate it after you've listened to it, contact me for the refund.
Marie Delaney I just finished the work. I faked it in college, but finally sat down to give it my best try after 30 years. Why? Because I felt I owed it to myself and the work which is considered the greatest novel of the 20th century. I'm over 50 years old now and it was hard sledding. I hated it many times. I wanted to quit, but because I had announced my intentions to several good friends, they held my feet to the fire and I endured and triumphed at the end. Like a marathon, I am proud that I finished it. I did a number of things in the tackling of the project: 1) I listened to each section aloud via an audio book, then went back to read the section from the text (I had the original Sylvia Beach edition [reprint] which I think is better than the later academic "improved" edition.) 2) I listened to some of the Frank Delaney podcasts of the first 2 sections and then I was on my way. 3) I looked at some external or secondary sources both before and after each section and often found them helpful but not altogether vital. 4) There are 18 sections of Ulysses which correlate to the sections in the Odyssey. In my opinion 9 of these sections are easy to read and in fact quite enjoyable, they can be read or listened to exclusively without the other 9 sections and one would understand and enjoy the primary principles or themes of the novel. Of these 9 sections, 5 are excellent. Conversely, the 9 other sections are extremely difficult to understand and of those 4 are plain awful. The points of the work are numerous and in order to appreciate it (if I can use that word), you should expose yourself to the entire work in some manner, knowing right away that half of the sections are very difficult and often incomprehensible. I believe the difficult parts are meant by Joyce to confound linguists and academics and the other parts of the novel are to present a universal theme on humanity to us more common readers. I'm not into the complex Joycean literary, historical puzzles and conundrums, but I am into the Joycean poetry of the work that exposes his characters, citizens and people of Dublin, Ireland on June 16th 1904 to the world. I can offer more help and give my list of the 9 cogent sections if you are interested, but give it a try and a lot of time if you want to appreciate the work as it was intended. Just remember it is not a Stephen King or Robert Ludlum novel…in fact there is no other novel I know written in English that is as great as Ulysses or as difficult to tackle.
Em No, I liked Homer too and I'm from Dublin, around where the book is set at the start. But I've given up. So many better, brilliant books to read in the world then to read that pile of nonsense
Braden O'Neill You don't read Ulysses, you study it. Dive in, grab some supplementary reading, and enjoy the intertextual adventure. Not your typical work of fiction by any means.
Mike In short, no. It would appear that because it is often termed "a classic" then it is alright to be unreadable. Well, it is not. A readable book should not need to be explained or summarised for people who find it too boring to finish.

Life is too short to worry about reading unreadable books.
Jsmh No. It is completely unreadable. I am an avid life long reader who reads 80 or more novels a year including classics. I tried this and gave up after about the same time you did. Could not make heads or tails of it. I can't remember ever giving up on a novel before.
Kathy No it's not. This is the most tedious novel written. Frankly publishers have wasted a lot of excellent forest/s for this drivel. I would not recommend this to you. Honestly there are many classic novels to read that are classics! This is not one! Try some of the others; writers like Trollope, Dickens, Collins and other greats.
Linda C In my opinion. Joyce is the literary equivalent off the Emperor's New Clothes. He is virtually unreadable yet he has managed to convince millions of people that he is a genius. Yeah, no. Just no.
Julie Just start reading and let yourself get caught u p in it. Helps to be very familiar with Greek mythology, the Latin Mass and Breviary, the Latin language, Irish mores, and at least some of 19th century history (European). Do not hunt down every allusion, but let them wash past you, catching the ones you can.
Unless you have more than a passing acquaintance with Catholic Tradition and knowledge of the influence of Jansenism on the Church there, you will miss a lot.
Being raised in an Irish Catholic family under the shadow of unresolved parental grief helps greatly, but not everyone is so unlucky.
I have read it twice; but whether everyone should or even can read it I am uncertain. Some parts defy sense.
Salahuddin No. Do not waste your time. The language is way too obscure and convoluted which makes this book no fun. But if you're patient enough and can read it all then you should deserve a badge of honor.

This link might help you:
Armagan (any pronouns) since we are really lucky in terms of following intertextuality/references to other texts, by the help of search engines and access to related documents. it is much more easy to read and enjoy joyce's highly intertextual narrative. however, it takes some time.. especially, if English is your second language (like mine), you need to accept taking pleasure from slow-reading. ..and as far as I understand and follow the references from various online sources, it is an entertaining and bold novel against the hegemony of Ancient Greek.

I also agree that, with no hurry to end it, listening the novel while reading it, and pausing and making research, would give extra time to establish and discover the connections within Ulyssees. So, it is a kind of journey that modern reader would enjoy, if he/she wants to join Joyce's world of fictions.
Robert McTague Deepak--don't know if it's too late, but wanted to recommend one other resource: It's called The New Bloomsday Book by Harry Blamires. I have the Gifford, Gilbert and Ulysses Annotated texts--those are great scholarly works--but the Blamires book is the one to use if you want to just follow along and understand, in common language, WTF is going on. It also makes the story more relatable and deeply human (something Joyce was good at, yet overlooked for).

Ulysses is not for every reader. Still, it is disappointing that so many respondents inserted their own, clearly worldly, opinions about unreadable or bad literature. I'll simply say that reading Ulysses is an undertaking--Joyce stated publicly that it was meant to be so--and so, the reader must accept, going in, that this is the case. Please don't feel too compelled to perceive it in ways one is used to with all other books (yet, try to read Gravity's Rainbow sometime. No easier). No one--not even John Kidd--can claim to have uncovered all of its mysteries, and no one ever will. It also, unless read several times, requires more analysis than simple reading as you go along...and that, admittedly, is not for everyone. Yet, that aspect of its aesthetic alone makes it intriguing and worth consideration (just think of it as an expedition, not an armchair stretch)--even if it's not an entirely enjoyable book (user experience may vary). Good luck, if I'm not too late!
Mark André yes! Ulysses is readable and it is re-readable and it is re-re-readable. It is the most analyzed and yet least understood novel of modern times. stay away - if possible - from any of the "helper" materials. if your going to spend time reading: read Ulysses!
Brian Landes I've read it three times. Yes, it's readable. Like Rene said, use some kind of guide your first time through, then when you read it again, you'll know it well and can just enjoy it and let it wash over you.
Alison Barber Yes! (I am reading and enjoying it at the moment), but I think you need to be in the mood and committed and have a plan. Like you, I have had a go before and only made it about a third of the way. This time, I made it a project, googled "How to read Ulysses" (seriously:-) ) and took some of the advice, chiefly 1/. to commit to a few pages a night and 2/. to arm myself with a guide, in my case Harry Blamires New Bloomsday. Usually read Blamires intro to each chapter to see how it sits against Iliad and get an idea of the style to expect and then read until I feel I need to dip into Blamires to clarify something - (in Scylla and Charybdis several times a page!). Without the Blamires, I am pretty sure I would have to read it half a dozen times to pick up some of the detail and allusions. Some chapters more challenging than others, but am finding it far funnier and entertaining than did at first pass and am roughly half way and enjoying picking it up each night, so pretty sure will see it to the end this time.
Have also dipped into the Shmoop Summaries and found them useful. A whole community out there of people discussing Ulysses. Join them and dive in!
Jude This is for anyone who reads this question and finds Ulysses daunting: Read it. Just read it. Just do it. Use a summary after every chapter if you're dying to know the plot; otherwise JUST READ IT. Once you get past the mindset of this book being "one of the hardest books to read" you can really get into the prose and the themes and the ideas that this book is overflowing with.

Yes, it reads like trying to walk through a flood of molasses. Yes, it is going to take up the next few weeks of your life. Yes, sometimes the obscure references to some dead Irish dude is going to fly directly over your head. Who cares? Continue on in spite of that.

In conclusion: JUST READ IT.
Maxine No, it is not readable, and it is not readable on many levels. If you enjoy being bombarded by dizzying flights of ideas hysterically leaping from one image to another until you've forgotten what the original concept was, then by all means, soldier on. But--not unless you enjoy being sickened.

After breaking my promise that I would not read beyond one more description of anything as "snot green", or the cataloging of the contents of a used handkerchief, I did continue. in the effort to find some redemptive value to a supposedly "profoundly great" work of modern literature, slogging on through the bloated corpse of a dead dog in (yes) snot green water, followed soon after by the arrival of a bloated human corpse washing ashore as small silver fish, fat with feeding on said bloated corpse emerge from his open fly. This led to musings of rotting teeth and discussions of urination. I finally quit in disgust as the man witnessing all of these sights wipes snot he'd just removed from his nose "carefully" on a board to dry. All of this before the end of Episode 3!

If this is example of great modern literature, then I'm content to let my tastes run to the plebeian.
Davis Goodman Don't feel in the slightest bad if you don't understand it or can barely see the connection with the Odyssey. Thousands of English lit majors suffer through this book...and some are willing to admit they don't get it...don't get why people utterly adore it...or why they should have been put through such literary torture.
Mogens Johansen Yes, very much. Maybe some background is needed. I suggest you don't read it as a ordinary novel; I further suggest you read it contemplatively e.g. finding subtexts and ....
I read it first time in Danish forty years ago. but now have more English knowledge and I read it in a group. Also listening to Jim Norton's reading (Naxos recordings) really help me when I re-read and re-read it.
Try again and stay with it. I did not understand much first second or third time. but keep going and eventually you will belly laugh at some sections. Go Poldy and the rest of the wonderful gang. Happy Bloomsday next year on 16 June.
Tom I used this (mostly) annotated version when I read it. It helped a lot. Plus after every chapter, I read the relevant summaries on Shmoop, Sparknotes etc, as well as summaries of relevant parts of the Odyssey. A lot of work? Sure. But I think well worth the effort.
Mel A very relevant question. I am 66% done & have the very same question as you after 40 pgs. I think the answer is (wait! I must first finish before I answer).
Monkman Devine I don't know if anyone has already replied with this but on you tube RTE have dramatised the whole book in 18 episodes so you can read along word for word and they lift all the voices out of the text brilliantly
Jack Trainor Much of the book is stream-of-consciousness -- semi-connected thoughts bouncing around in someone's head -- often lacking context. One could figure it out with multiple close readings, but unless one doesn't mind being lost much of the first time, I recommend keeping a good guide at hand.

I used Harry Blamires' "The Bloomsday Book," which provides basically a paraphrase summary of each chapter and points out many of the connections. I don't think I could have finished "Ulysses" without it.

I also read the Stuart Gilbert book on Ulysses and the Ellman bio of Joyce. Those were helpful, but Blamires made the difference.

There's a more recent edition, "The New Bloomsday Book," which uses page numbers linking to more recent editions of Ulysses (such as Gabler) rather than the older editions (such as the Random House/Modern Library).

Recently I discovered an online hyperlinked version of the "Ulysses" text with explanatory roll-over messages. Looks good, but have only read the first chapter in that format:
Ken Cotter My advice is to skip the first three chapters the first time you read Ulysses. The rest of the book is much more readable then later go back and read the the first three chapters.
Bethany Reid Listening to it has been the way for me. It's quite an ambitious project, either way, but I do a lot of driving (and listen to books). It's definitely readable. My advice is to forget the guides and just let it wash over you.

I admit, I saw a stage play in Dublin (at the historic Abbey Theatre!) that convinced me to finally read it. The playwright's goal, according to the program notes, was to make Ulysses accessible.
Hunnapuh Xbal The problem with the book is that it has many quotes and references to books, authors, historical facts, personal memories in a simple conversation or monologue. It is essential to have read or at least know a lot about literature, history and culture of the time and place.
An excellent help is the following site:
barry I recommend the Audiobook (I used Audible) narrated by Jim Norton. I alternated between reading, listening and reading while listening. Usually, I would begin a chapter by listening to the audiobook and then switch to reading it myself with his narration in mind. He does a great job with voices. Every character has a unique voice. The interior monologues are read differently than the dialogue. It is great.

It is readable and it's worth reading. There are frustrating parts. For example, there are parts where things are listed excessively. I believe it was intended to be funny or poetic. I found it annoying. In Sirens, the language is meant to be musical and suggest inebriation. Sometimes it is very broken up and unfocused. It's tough to read some of that. But, when it works, it is interesting and enjoyable. There are a lot of funny moments. I thought the Cyclop chapter had many. You got stuck on parts 2 and 3. Those are difficult because they take place -roughly- in Stephen's mind. Most of the book does not. I've read somewhere (either in Stuart Gilbert or Anthony Burgess' book) that Stephen is confused or unclear about many of the ideas that float through his mind. So you should be confused and feel disoriented. The language is intended to be disorienting. That is part of its poetic charm. There are references to Aristotle and others but that is not a big deal. I googled a lot of the references. I didn't know that Stephen was thinking about Aristotle when he thought about the "ineluctable modality of the visual" until I did some research. But I don't believe it matters that much. It is more important to have a sense of where his thoughts are circling around and the poetry of the language.

Consider reading Molloy by Beckett. I believe reading that prepared me for the Interior Monologues in Ulysses.

Also, check out Stuart Gilbert's Ulysses: A Study and Anthony Burgess' Re Joyce.
Tim You need a guide. Try 'Stuart Gilbert's Ulysses'. Gilbert knew James Joyce and was able to validate his interpretations directly with Joyce.
Malachy Grange I started reading it 5x and finished it twice. The first time I used Anthony Burgess's Re Joyce as a guide while I was in college. It was understandable (to a degree) and enjoyable (to a degree). The other time I finished it I was under the influence of mind altering drugs most of the time and so I don't remember much except that it was spectacularly visual and I wondered if Joyce was on psychadelic drugs when he wrote it. Two other times I just gave up after wondering why was I reading it again, dashing around it, but wound up reading the ending - Molly's soliloquy - twice. The BEST was reading while listening to Frank Delaney's podcast, also called Re:Joyce. He is the best, a native Irish writer who is having the time of his life reading it, telling stories, laughing and bringing the book to life, once or twice a week, going over a sentence or a paragraph at a time along with other info about Joyce and the book. Great stuff. Profoundly enjoyable. He estimated it would take him 25 years to finish the project. Unfortunately, he died about 1/4 of the way through it. So I'm looking around for another guide. Lots mentioned here.
Gabriela Friel This book is fully readable, albeit not in the conventional sense. It warrants the brazen act of diving headfirst into the snotgreen sea and absorbing Joyce's idiosyncratic onslaught of language.
Dogus Akaydin Here I give some tips and tricks: Enduring Ulysses or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Book
Kevin Bradshaw Well, I've studied the Iliad and the Odyssey closely, and half way through this book- which bears the Latin name Ulysses and not the Greek Odysseus- there are basically zero parallels to Homer. It's pretentious nonsense (owing to the pretentiousness of the author and his bogus claims to erudition). Claims of a parallel suggest that people who accept that claim are not familiar with Homer.

The Iliad and the Odyssey contain their fair share of awful things and much silliness. They also contain a great deal of wisdom that requires a careful reading to discern. You could read both in the time you'll take reading this .... thing.
Sheila Bitts
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Kevin Maloney So...did you read it?
Andrew I read this book in an epic literature course in college. The only way I got through it is by reading it simultaneously with with others and engaging in conversation. It's amazing how different people draw such different conclusions with him.
Fabrício Calado This link helped me get through, see if it works for you:
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