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Ulysses
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Books > Brilliant or Just Gimmicky?

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message 1: by Joel (last edited Jul 29, 2014 02:23PM) (new) - added it

Joel Bresler | 1545 comments Mod
I recently finished reading Ulysses. It's been called the greatest novel of the 20th Century; but frankly, I don't see it. It was interesting, more like Gertrude Stein than Dubliners or A Portrait of the Artist. Almost musical, even. But overall it felt more gimmicky than brilliant. Am I missing something, or is this along the lines of the Emperor's new clothes?


message 2: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Shiroff | 840 comments Oh, I swoon when I think about reading Ulysses. Honestly. There are few things Joyce wrote that don't make me swoon, though, so maybe that's not enough of an answer?

I had a entire college course devoted to Ulysses. It is truly brilliant. The are layers upon layers upon layers of meaning that just don't seem to end. And then to think that its something of a love letter to his wife.

Yes, I swoon.

Have you read Kevin Birmingham's "The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce's Ulysses"? It's newly out. Maybe that will help sway you to agree with me.


message 3: by Joel (last edited Jul 31, 2014 01:12PM) (new) - added it

Joel Bresler | 1545 comments Mod
It's the price I pay for not being an English major, I guess. I should probably find a good Ulysses study guide, but my friends who were all English majors advised me against it!


message 4: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Douglass (rdouglass) | 2420 comments Mod
Joel, I haven't read Ulysses, even though I was an English major. I did read "the Portrait of the Artist. . . ." and I was underwhelmed by that, though maybe that should be blamed on my callow youth at the time. I went on to discover medieval literature and never really took another look at the early 20th century, a period I find depressing in the extreme.


message 5: by Will (new)

Will Once (willonce) | 445 comments It was of its time, and has since been much imitated.

Reading it with modern eyes it can seem a little gimmicky and even old hat. But imagine reading it in 1918.

That's the problem with much classic literature. You have to read it with historic-translation specs to appreciate what had gone before it and what was yet to come.


message 6: by Will (new)

Will Macmillan Jones (willmacmillanjones) | 510 comments I have to say that it didn't float my boat, either.

I much prefer reading Roddy Doyle


message 7: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Douglass (rdouglass) | 2420 comments Mod
Frankly, I prefer Jane Austin. Or Mary Austen.


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