16 June 2010

On Ulysses, on Bloomsday

Ulysses is the story of these men 
and their experiences on one day, 16 June 1904.
(images via Ulysses "seen")

Now, every year on June 16th, people in Dublin act out the odysseys of Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom, bringing the novel to life. It's a tradition, one that is steeped in literary history. 

Always on the list of "Best Books" and clocking in at over 300,000 words, Ulysses remains one of the most daunting and brilliant novels of all time. While it is extremely difficult to get through, it's also extremely rewarding. I read it in a graduate seminar, and we spent almost eight weeks on it. And we still felt like we needed more time. But it's beautiful and brilliant and when you're reading it, you can tell you're reading something important. Even if you don't always understand what is going on.

Ulysses is, of course, an adaptation of The Odyssey, but it's also the story of Modern Man, Modern Dublin and Modernity. 

If you're interested in learning more about Ulysses, here are two lovely places to do it:
Ulysses "seen" - a graphic adaptation of the work. Only completed through "Telemachus" but it has the makings of greatness.
re:Joyce - Frank Delaney's recent project, podcasts dedicated to various episodes in Ulysses. This project just started, and will finish for Bloomsday next year.

Just to help, I'm also going to offer "Ulysses in 39 words"
          I: Buck concelebrates                    II: Stephen educates                    III: Stephen cogitates
       IV: Bloom evacuates                       V: Bloom exfoliates                    VI: Bloom commiserates
      VII: Crawford prevaricates           VIII: Bloom masticates                   IX: Stephen explicates
        X: Dublin perambulates                XI: Boylan adulterates                 XII: the citizen co-agitates
    XIII: Gerty titillates                        XIV: Mina parturiates                    XV: Bella emasculates
    XVI: a sailor exaggerates              XVII: Our heroes micturate        XVIII: Molly menstruates

This comes from a postcard that I picked up in Dublin at the James Joyce Centre.

Ulysses is something that everyone should read.
It is on those lists for a reason.
It changed literature. Completely.
It changed me, too.

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