Author Topic: Ulysses  (Read 1711 times)

Dannyhood91

  • I thought you said KING AAARTHUUUR!
Ulysses
« on: March 16, 2018, 06:25:06 PM »
It’s been sitting in my room since January 2016 after I purchased it in Ireland and I just cannot get myself to read it. Someone give me some motivation to finally dig into it.

Should I maybe start off with some of his less daunting books like The Dubliners?

Re: Ulysses
« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2018, 06:28:44 PM »
Read it outloud.

Dannyhood91

  • I thought you said KING AAARTHUUUR!
Re: Ulysses
« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2018, 06:31:22 PM »

buttgammon

  • You don't know what you really want
Re: Ulysses
« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2018, 06:57:50 PM »
I do like Dubliners but the book I'd really recommend reading before it is A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, especially as the protagonist of that, Stephen Dedalus, is also one of the main characters of Ulysses. He leaves Dublin for Paris at the end of that book and by the start of Ulysses a few years later, he is back in Dublin.

Alternatively, I'd suggest starting with the fourth chapter, reading up to the end of the eighth chapter, then reading the first three chapters and going on to the ninth. It sounds like an absolutely ridiculously way to read a book, but the first three chapters are more difficult than the ones that follow. They deal with Dedalus while the other main character, Leopold Bloom, appears in the fourth chapter, and I would argue that Bloom is a more accessible (and funny) character, particularly when reading the book for the first time.

I'd also recommend an audiobook. There is an abridged BBC Radio 4 version that is very good (it condenses the action into six or seven hours but manages to fit most of the main sections of the novel in). RTÉ made an unabridged version about forty years ago that is also really good. It is obviously a lot slower than the BBC version, but I think it is very well made; Bloom sounds exactly as I imagined him.

Talulah, really!

  • A knot you are of damned bloodsuckers
Re: Ulysses
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2018, 07:05:28 PM »
I do like Dubliners but the book I'd really recommend reading before it is A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, especially as the protagonist of that, Stephen Dedalus, is also one of the main characters of Ulysses. He leaves Dublin for Paris at the end of that book and by the start of Ulysses a few years later, he is back in Dublin.

I'd also recommend an audiobook. There is an abridged BBC Radio 4 version that is very good (it condenses the action into six or seven hours but manages to fit most of the main sections of the novel in). RTÉ made an unabridged version about forty years ago that is also really good. It is obviously a lot slower than the BBC version, but I think it is very well made; Bloom sounds exactly as I imagined him.

Don't know if you are aware but BBC Radio 4 just did A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man as a Book at Bedtime, read, rather lovely I thought, by Andrew Scott who was in the abridged BBC Ulysses you mention if remembering rightly. It's still up on Iplayer for a few more days/week or so for the omnibus edition that goes out on Radio 4 Extra.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09rx6hl

buttgammon

  • You don't know what you really want
Re: Ulysses
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2018, 08:55:06 PM »
Don't know if you are aware but BBC Radio 4 just did A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man as a Book at Bedtime, read, rather lovely I thought, by Andrew Scott who was in the abridged BBC Ulysses you mention if remembering rightly. It's still up on Iplayer for a few more days/week or so for the omnibus edition that goes out on Radio 4 Extra.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09rx6hl

I keep meaning to listen to this, actually, so thanks for the reminder! Andrew Scott was in the BBC Ulysses, playing Stephen Dedalus in fact, so he was a natural choice for this one. Although I like the RTÉ version, I thought Scott was a much better Dedalus than whoever did that one.

Dedalus is a hard character to get right; in any adaptation, he's usually the one that annoys me. Joseph Strick made a film version of Ulysses in the 60s that was almost entirely ruined by the guy playing Dedalus, who was a shoddy actor with a weird accent who looked like some third-rate Beatles imitator. It doesn't help that the film doesn't seem sure whether it is set in 1904 or the 1960s, possibly because it was almost impossible to film Dublin without showing anachronisms like modern cars and Liberty Hall.

Danger Man

  • Putting the B in the DSM
Re: Ulysses
« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2018, 08:55:39 PM »
Andrew Scott is superb doing 'Portrait of the Artist'

Glebe

  • That'll do, macaque, that'll do.
Re: Ulysses
« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2018, 10:48:42 PM »
There's a copy of it (and Dubliners) lying around the house, I dipped into it a couple of times... funny to see all these local streets and areas mentioned in such a famous book.

newbridge

  • Endless Summer of George
Re: Ulysses
« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2018, 01:52:31 PM »
I recommend reading Dubliners, then A Portrait of an Artist, then Ulysses, not only because it eases you into Joyce's voice as a writer (his writing gets chronologically more "difficult"), but also because as mentioned the books are all in the same universe. A Portrait of an Artist is a sort of prequel for the character of Stephen Dedalus, and minor characters in Dubliners also reappear in Ulysses.

I haven't listened to them all and I don't know whether or not it's a good way to read the book for the first time, but I also greatly enjoy Frank Delaney's 5-minute podcasts going through the entire book in order: http://blog.frankdelaney.com/re-joyce/ (sadly he died well before finishing the project, so it won't get you to the end, but it has a lot of interesting information about the early bits and could be useful in helping to navigate the prose)

Famous Mortimer

  • War - it's fantastic!
    • International Syndicate of Cult Film Critics
Re: Ulysses
« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2018, 02:45:20 PM »
I read a version with a 50-page introduction that helps you out with discussing the sort of things the book is going to go on about - but it's absolutely worth sticking with. Most other novels will feel nice and simple and compact after reading it, too.

Dannyhood91

  • I thought you said KING AAARTHUUUR!
Re: Ulysses
« Reply #10 on: May 04, 2018, 10:03:19 PM »
I recommend reading Dubliners, then A Portrait of an Artist, then Ulysses, not only because it eases you into Joyce's voice as a writer (his writing gets chronologically more "difficult"), but also because as mentioned the books are all in the same universe. A Portrait of an Artist is a sort of prequel for the character of Stephen Dedalus, and minor characters in Dubliners also reappear in Ulysses.

I haven't listened to them all and I don't know whether or not it's a good way to read the book for the first time, but I also greatly enjoy Frank Delaney's 5-minute podcasts going through the entire book in order: http://blog.frankdelaney.com/re-joyce/ (sadly he died well before finishing the project, so it won't get you to the end, but it has a lot of interesting information about the early bits and could be useful in helping to navigate the prose)

Sorry for leaving this thread in the dust. I’ve now read The Dubliners and I’ll be making Portrait my next Joyce read. Dubliners is good and the final story within the book, I think it’s called The Dead, wow what a beautiful bit of literature. The final lines gave me a real “that’s incredible” moment.

“Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, further westwards, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling too upon every part of the lonely churchyard where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.”

You can’t beat stuff like that

buttgammon

  • You don't know what you really want
Re: Ulysses
« Reply #11 on: May 04, 2018, 10:52:21 PM »
Glad you enjoyed it - 'The Dead' is one of my favourite short stories of all time, it's absolutely stunning, especially that ending.

Re: Ulysses
« Reply #12 on: May 04, 2018, 11:56:15 PM »
I like "Counterparts" a lot.

Re: Ulysses
« Reply #13 on: May 08, 2018, 04:16:35 PM »
I think Ulysses is actually an easier (or more fun) read than Portrait because of the Bloom chapters, as buttgammon mentions upthread. Dedalus can be hard going.

Also agree about the strange 60s film - it was obv. done pretty cheaply and feels like the kitchen sink stuff that was popular at the time - Billy Liar etc.

John Houston's film of The Dead, however, is wonderful.

buttgammon

  • You don't know what you really want
Re: Ulysses
« Reply #14 on: May 08, 2018, 04:27:38 PM »
The most notable thing about the 60s film version is that it is (allegedly) the first English language film to use the word 'fuck', and I'm still not entirely sure if that's correct, I just can't think of any earlier examples off-hand. The Graduate would have come out at roughly the same time.

There is an enormous collection of Joyce stuff in Buffalo that I'd love to visit (I'm hoping to get my college to fund me to do this at some stage but it's more likely I'll end up spending a month or two in Zurich - where Joyce is buried - instead) and the rumour is that it's going to come to Dublin to mark the 100th anniversary of Ulysses in 2022. It's a bit of an early heads up, but it'll be worth a look for anyone who's interested in Joyce.

Re: Ulysses
« Reply #15 on: May 08, 2018, 04:51:33 PM »
I haven't read Ulysses but I read Beckett's Molloy, Malone Dies and The Unnamable by playing the audiobooks and reading the books along with them. I find it very hard to imagine getting through them any other way. I do recommend this approach.

newbridge

  • Endless Summer of George
Re: Ulysses
« Reply #16 on: May 08, 2018, 05:54:40 PM »
I haven't read Ulysses but I read Beckett's Molloy, Malone Dies and The Unnamable by playing the audiobooks and reading the books along with them. I find it very hard to imagine getting through them any other way. I do recommend this approach.

Joyce recommended, I think, that Finnegans Wake be read aloud.

buttgammon

  • You don't know what you really want
Re: Ulysses
« Reply #17 on: May 08, 2018, 06:06:28 PM »
Joyce recommended, I think, that Finnegans Wake be read aloud.

He even recorded a few extracts (in a female Cork accent), which were put on record and sold. His eyesight was so bad at the time that he couldn't read the page, so someone had to whisper the words into his ear as he spoke them. There's certainly something in the idea that it's better read aloud; on quite a few occasions, I've found myself struggling to understand a certain passage, read it to myself in a fake Dublin accent and suddenly deciphered it. A lot of the wordplay only works properly in a Dublin accent, hence this approach working.

Here's Joyce reading part of the Wake: https://youtu.be/grJC1yu4KRw

Re: Ulysses
« Reply #18 on: May 09, 2018, 12:03:54 AM »
With something as daunting as Ulysses I would also recommend an audiobook first. I usually wouldn't recommend an audiobook but it makes sense to at least get a good feel for the story before you get up to your chin in the muck and bullets of it all.

The one with Stephen Rea is worth a few listens. Seems to be free with the Audible trial.

https://www.amazon.com/Ulysses-Dramatised/dp/B006VR4SSQ

biggytitbo

  • WHAT ABOUT THE GODDAM JAFFA CAKES ASSWIPE
    • theunredacted
Re: Ulysses
« Reply #19 on: May 09, 2018, 11:59:30 AM »
Quote
Ulysses, Ulysses,
soaring through all the galaxies,
in search of Earth,
flying in to the night.

Ulysses, Ulysses,
fighting evil and tyranny,
with all his power,
and withall of his might.

Ulysses, no-one else can do the things you do.
Ulysses, like a bolt of thunder from the blue.
Ulysses, always fighting all the evil forces bringing peace and justice to all.

It's me Nono small robot you know, friend of Ulysses.
It's me Nono small robot you know, friend of Ulysses.

Ulysses, no-one else can do the things you do.
Ulysses, like a bolt ofthunder from the blue.
Ulysses, always fighting all the evil forces bringing peace and justice to all.

Shit Good Nose

  • Several bags of balls
Re: Ulysses
« Reply #20 on: May 11, 2018, 11:18:54 PM »
I've read Ulysses once, all the way through.  I wouldn't say that it's a particularly complex or difficult to understand book (if you're an avid reader - people who just read Viz and Reader's Wives might want to sit it out, or take it slow), just very hard going on account of its sheer length and shifting styles.

The other thing to note is that it takes a fuck of a lot longer to read than the 15-odd hours the story takes place in (although some sections happen at the same time as others).

I'll quickly acknowledge that I'm not a fan, and it put me off reading any other Joyce stuff (although, as poodlefaker said, John Huston's film of The Dead is aces).  I've not even seen the '67 film, although I have seen the 00s adaptation (Bloom) with Stephen Rea, which is dull as fuck.

timebug

  • Father of Serge
Re: Ulysses
« Reply #21 on: June 13, 2018, 09:54:03 AM »
One of the few books that I have read most of
but never managed to finish! I read through it quite
happily,and was engrossed in the thing, until at some
point, it took a turn that jarred in my mind, and I just
seemed to lose interest in it.
So I have read about four fifths of it,from memory,and
have no active intention to ever return to it. Sorry to
the legions of fans out there, but that's the way it is!
If I am going to abandon a book as a piece of shit or
whatever, I would normally do so after about fifty pages
or so. This one was an exception, but I can't for the life
of me remember what it was that changed/put me off!

Re: Ulysses
« Reply #22 on: June 13, 2018, 09:37:40 PM »
Shame as the last two chapters are probably the best in the book.

saltysnacks

  • Hair in ALL the right places.
Re: Ulysses
« Reply #23 on: June 14, 2018, 09:11:11 AM »
One thing I will say, it sounds obvious, but don't read anything you are getting nothing from. Reading should be a pleasure, it can be a difficult pleasure, but if it is difficult without being a pleasure, it becomes miserable. I use a very broad definition of pleasure here. I love Ulysses and have probably spent more time reading it out of order and just perusing than chronologically.

Re: Ulysses
« Reply #24 on: June 14, 2018, 11:36:54 AM »
tl;dr

Twit 2

  • En pleurs
Re: Ulysses
« Reply #25 on: June 17, 2018, 10:05:38 AM »
One thing I will say, it sounds obvious, but don't read anything you are getting nothing from. Reading should be a pleasure, it can be a difficult pleasure, but if it is difficult without being a pleasure, it becomes miserable. I use a very broad definition of pleasure here. I love Ulysses and have probably spent more time reading it out of order and just perusing than chronologically.

Yah, but perusing means the opposite to how you’ve used it!

saltysnacks

  • Hair in ALL the right places.
Re: Ulysses
« Reply #26 on: June 20, 2018, 10:47:17 PM »
Yah, but perusing means the opposite to how you’ve used it!

Shit!

I'm a fraud.

buttgammon

  • You don't know what you really want
Re: Ulysses
« Reply #27 on: June 20, 2018, 11:27:35 PM »
Did we all have a nice Bloomsday, breakfasting on kidneys and bathing at the forty foot? I was actually at a Joyce conference all week but had to skip out on the festivities to catch a train, and I felt a strange mix of smugness and disappointment that I missed it.

I'm reading something at the moment that may be of interest - Gustave Flaubert's Bouvard and Pécuchet. Joyce read this book, and there are evidently references to it in Finnegans Wake, but I'm convinced it was an influence on Ulysses too (at times, it's like reading Joyce before Joyce). It's a very funny book, in which two rather strange men go through a variety of pursuits and obsessions, attempting to form an encyclopedic view of everything but always failing. I can't help but think of 'Ithaca' - one of my favourite sections of Ulysses - which has the exact same sense of informational overload and is packed with deliberate errors.

Re: Ulysses
« Reply #28 on: June 21, 2018, 11:01:14 AM »
I  go along with the school of thought that sees Thomas Carlyle's Sartor Restartus as one of the biggest influences on the Wake, in particular any time Joyce is, like in the opening section, parodying an academic lecture. (I guess you know the Victorian-style bit of "Oxen of the Sun" is supposed to be a parody of Carlyle, too).

Really, I see loads of "Joyce before Joyce" in 19th century novels, and I've always fell like the schism between Joyce and what came before him is massively overstated- to take just examples from Dickens, the opening, phantasmagorical,  collage-like section of A Tale of Two Cities, with grand historical themes and a series of related personal stories seems structurally similar to the opening of the Wake, and (maybe this is a bit of a stretch)the hallucinatory opening of Edwin Drood doesn't feel so far away from Bloom and Stephen's trippy interior monologues.

If I'm honest, I think that people who rate Joyce but don't really appreciate 19th century fiction don't really get him or where he was coming from.




buttgammon

  • You don't know what you really want
Re: Ulysses
« Reply #29 on: June 21, 2018, 03:33:39 PM »
Completely agree on the 19th century influences; for what it's worth, I think Joyce engaged far more with that tradition than he did with his contemporaries, and that's coming from someone who is a big fan of modernism. He didn't seem to think much of Proust when he met him, he had virtually no contact with surrealism and Dadaism and even with friends who championed his work like Pound and Ford, there is very little evidence of Joyce taking as much interest in their work as they did in his.

Of course, we can keep going back and finding more and more influences on Joyce (obvious stuff like Sterne, Vico and Bruno, but also people like Defoe, Swift and Goldsmith). One of my favourite things about Joyce is the fact that so much of his stuff - particularly 'Oxen of the Sun' and Finnegans Wake forms a history of literature in miniature.