I gave up on finishing James Joyce’s Ulysses by Bloomsday on June 16th. As much as I enjoyed The Dubliners, I found Ulysses dense and uninteresting. Reading Ulysses leaves me regretful of how much of my literary upbringing was neglected (often due to a lack of interest on my part at the time). I found myself wallowing in feelings of inadequacy until I came across this reassuring first paragraph of a 1922 review by Joseph Collins,
A few intuitive, sensitive visionaries may understand and comprehend “Ulysses,” James Joyce’s new and mammoth volume, without going through a course of training or instruction, but the average intelligent reader will glean little or nothing from it- even from careful perusal, one might properly say study, of it- save bewilderment and a sense of disgust. It should be companioned with a key and a glossary like the Berlitz books. Then the attentive and diligent reader would eventually get some comprehension of Mr. Joyce’s message.
which ends insightfully as well.
Stephen Dedalus in his Parisian tranquility (if the modern Minos has been given the lethal warm bath) will pretend indifference to the publication of a laudatory study of “Ulysses” a hundred years hence, but he is as sure to get it as Dostoyevsky, and surer than Mallarme.
The entire review is well worth the read.
Instead of considering this giving up, I have finally dedicated my time to putting fingers to keyboard and getting down to daily writing. This includes taking on the Write 1 Sub 1 experiment that challenges writers to submit at least one short story or poem either every week or every month.
In other news, Dublin’s renowned Abbey Theatre has brought together a cast for Joyce’s The Dead slated to hit the stage this Christmas!