Saturday, January 29, 2011

Ulysses - I tried

I mentioned here that I was attempting to read Ulysses by James Joyce over the holidays.  I've read that it's arguably the most influential novel of the twentieth century. 

One of my goals is to be well read - but also to challenge myself in my reading.  Just because I'm not in school any longer, doesn't mean that I can't continue to learn.  Obviously I won't read the classics all the time, but there was a point after college that I realized I wasn't reading anything that was particularly thoughtful or challenging. While in school, my reading list was usually so significant, I didn't have a chance to look at anything else.

I made it around halfway through Ulysses, this time.  I didn't invest in Cliffs notes for the novel (next time) but I did find a literary analysis that discussed the book, chapter by chapter. Despite the literary explanations, it was still too much for me. 

There's a reason that this is a work primarily for English majors. 

I'll probably start it over at some point.  I do want to read it and finish it.  Much like "Gravity's Rainbow", by Thomas Pynchon, another book I want to finish. 

My observation from the parts that I read - I remember in college, some of my English major/writer friends mentioning the work and how influential it was.  Merely reading the first chapter, I thought of all of the friends that I had who attempted to mimic Joyce's writing style.  None of whom are reading this blog at the moment, as far as I know. 

I mentioned this to my husband, who observed that imitation is an important part of being an artist.  Many artists will try to recreate a painting - to learn how it's done.  Whether or not that process is conscious - the subtle or not so subtle imitation of Ulysses made much more sense with that explanation.

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