I’m Reading “Ulysses,” What Are You Doing?

Yes I am.  This is my second attempt, but I’ve gotten much further in this time.  I’m currently nearly halfway through, in the middle of the part where “the citizen” gets in a fight with Bloom in a bar.  (On my first try, several years ago, I don’t think I got past the first bit with Stephen Dedalus and Buck Mulligan in the tower.)

My new strategy, oddly, is NOT reading any notes.  It’s actually easier and much more pleasant to just power through.  I certainly don’t always know exactly what’s happening, but I’ve never yet completely lost the narrative thread; I actually think the impenetrability of the book is a bit oversold.  I generally do know what’s happening and to whom.  One helpful hint: whenever I don’t know what someone is talking about, I assume that he is talking about Parnell.

O hai I am Parnell.

But it’s very enjoyable.  Also makes me want to reread Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man for more Stephen background.  I got extremely confused for a while before I realized that both Stephen’s father and his uncle are fairly major characters in the book (on every reference I thought they were the same person).

I’m also basically ignoring all the parallels to the Odyssey, or at least not worrying about them too much.  I recognize them if they’re obvious.

What I do find interesting is paying attention to the use of color, since I know that Joyce liked the Indian tradition of assigning a particular color, with corresponding meaning and emotional tone, to each subsection of his writing.

In any case, it’s still more a pleasure than a chore; hopefully it will remain so!

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