Does ANYBODY ACTUALLY read james Joyce for Pleasure?

I ask this because I’ve been trying to read “Ulysses” for over a year now. I’ve read a few of Joyce’s short stories (eg. “THE DEAD”) and found them mildly interesting, but nothing special. However, this work (ULYSSES), which countless numbers of english Ph.Ds have written dissertations on, really is awful. Aside from the obscure references to classical mythology, and oddball puns, it is just about the most boring bit of prose I’ve ever tried to read.The (Leopold Bloom) character is quite unbelievable, and the “stream-of-consciousness” narrative is bizarre.
So, am I wrong in this-or does the “emperor” have no clothes on?
How many SDMB’ers really liked this “work” of literature?

And yes he said yes I do

It took me 3 years to get through it the 1st time, after many abortive attempts, but I finally did. I don’t read U for fun, but I do peruse Finnegans Wake on occasion.

Ulysses is a a masterwork of English literature, but it isn’t an easy read. Unlike Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, or Anthony Trollope, James Joyce was not trying to write a straight narrative. He was, as his alter-ego, Stephen Daedalus, said, “trying to forge in the smithy of my soul, the uncreated conscience of my race.” The novel’s plot, such as it is, follows the meanderings of half a dozen minor characters and three major characters in the course of 12 hours on June 16, 1904. The book is thematically structured to parallel the episodes of Homer’s Odyssey, and also thematically linked to the organs of the body and the hours of the day. Joyce employs heavy doses of parody, puns, and bawdy humor in the book, as in the “Nausicaa” chapter, where Stepehn Daedalus watches a young girl take a leak on the bank of the Liffey.

To get the most out of the book, a reader needs to bring a knowledge of philology, Greek mythology, psychology, and Irish history. Failing that, if you can find a copy of Stuart Gilbert’s illuminating work, James Joyce’s Ulysses: A Study, it will help you understand the literary and mythical allusions Joyce employs so you can get maximum enjoyment out of this wonderful work.

On Bloomsday (June 16), seek out an Irish pub in your area for a celebration of Joyce’s work and a royal pissup, to boot.

In case you hadn’t guessed, I’m a fan.

[Moderator Hat ON]

This looks like a survey. I’m therefore sending it to IMHO.

And for god’s sake, lissener, put some line breaks in your sig before the people with low res monitors hunt you down and kill you.

[Moderator Hat OFF]

People with low-res monitors don’t particularly frighten me.

Most of Joyce, no. However, I do read “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” for pleasure. Partially for the great writing, and partially for the grim pleasure of the Catholic school scenes (though I never went through anything liek that, it still rings somewhat true).

People with low-res monitors are the least of your problems right now.

your humble TubaDiva
Don’t be tugging on Superman’s cape, now.

His novels, no way. Never tried. But his short stories are incredibly fascinating. I recommend “Dubliners.”

. . . people with low-res monitors are usually among the least of my problems. . . .

Maybe I didn’t intend to, but in high school AP English, I had to read Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and enjoyed it immensely. Ditto for Heart of Darkness. A lighter read in that same class, A Prayer for Owen Meany, I enjoyed much less.

b a b a b a d a l g h a r a g h t a k a m m i n a r r o n n k o n n b r o n n t o n n e r r o n n t u o n n t h u n n t r o v a r r h o u n a w n s k a w n t o o h o o h o o r d e n v e n t h u r n u k !

This, of course, is from Finnegans Wake, and represents the Ur-thunderclap that created the world - the original Big Bang, if you will. (There appears to be a typo in there, but I can’t put my finger on it right now. I think it’s one letter too long.)

My favorite quote from U: “Redheaded women buck like goats,” (but perhaps you could have guessed that already).

Just as I suspected: it’s …toohoohoordenenthurnuk!, not toohoohoordenventhurnuk! (From Danish, tordenen and Irish tornach, one being ‘the thunder’, the other, ‘to thunder’).

And don’t use my idiosyncratic reading of baba …thurnuk! as representing the Ur-Clap as standard. The typical interpretation is that it represents the sound of Finn falling off the ladder, (and by extension, the Fall of Man). My perverse elucidation is based on too much Vico.

For best results,
rotate your axioms regularly

Very impressive, Dr.Pinky. I’d be lying if I said I’d inserted the V on purpose, but maybe I’ll say so anyway . . .

And your reading of the thunderclap is a reading I’d understood to be a standard interpretation (at least among some of the secondary sources I’ve read), so it’s not as idiosyncratic as you think. Notwithstanding the other interpretations, of course: with Joyce the more you pack into an interpretation, the closer you’ll probably get to his intention.

How commodius, eh?

Oooh, fellow Joyceans! How wonderful!

I spent four years at an Ivy League studying nothing but Joyce, with some other artists tossed in for flavor and the English degree requirements.

I read Portrait in high school and loved the language, and was intrigued by the feeling that I wasn’t “getting” everything that I was supposed to. So I read it and re-read it more times than I can recall. Same with Ulyssses. Ulysses, like the majority of Joyce’s works, is not meant to be read, it’s meant to be re-read. (Someone said that, but I can’t recall who right now.)

The best way to sum up Ulysses is that Joyce had a simple message, but he chose the grandest way to express it.

I’m not sure of that, Estrella. I’ve always thought of Joyce’s writing as simply being too realistic for most people to process as writing. He attempted to reproduce, on paper, the way the mind really works: he tried to transcribe subconscious thought as literally as possible. Where most writing is a highly artificial abstraction of that, he tried to strip away as much abstraction as possible and to reconstruct the way one’s own mind works, internally, privately.

It’s our habits of abstraction that make this seem unfamiliar.

Roger Ebert had a bit to say about James Joyce in this movie review.

<shrug> I mostly read Mad Magazine… :slight_smile:

I’m not entirely sure what exactly you disagree with. Can you please elaborate before I reply?


This, of course, is just like Roger Ebert. FW is no doubt a book he bought with no real intention of reading, and rather than admit that makes him (Ebert) an idiot, he decides it must be a trait common to all humanity. :rolleyes:

In the scene described in the quoted review, the director Gus Van Sant is obviously using the uncreased FW to show us something specific about the character’s personality. That he’s a fraud, an underachiever, whatever. That Ebert recognizes the trait to the extent he does is not surprising; that malaka takes this as confirmation that FW is not worth bothering with–that to buy it at all is an act of fraud–is sad.

Just that I see Joyce’s “grandness” of style to be incidental; that it’s really not grandness at all, in fact, just that we see it that way in comparison to the standard abstraction of traditional prose. That far from being grandness, it’s grit and grime and guts. Seeing it as grand is, I think, a projection of one’s initial intimidation in the face of Joyce’s accomplishment: he’s forged language into pure hought, rather than reduced thought to mere language as other writers do.