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Thread: Ulysses (1922)

  1. #1
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    Default Ulysses (1922)

    We've had a thread on The Waste Land, so I think we should have one on the other biggie -- if only as a prompt for me to actually finish the thing.

    It's probably an obvious point, but I read something the other day about Ulysses ending the novel/epic as a nationalist form by virtue of being a national epic written in the language of the conqueror.

    Quote Originally Posted by Internet Random #1 View Post
    Ulysses convincingly ended the novel/the epic as a nationalist form/genre (each country has its great epic). The calls for the "Great American Novel" are just the shadows of an old period. Djuna Barnes said that the modernist trajectory for writing culminated with Joyce, that afterward writers, herself among them, were free to do what they wanted.
    Quote Originally Posted by Internet Random #2 View Post
    National epics were already dead long before Ulysses, though (and it's pretty unlikely its influence could've been so strong that the entire world cared about it, considering how deeply burrowed into the English language it is). National/nationalist novels I don't think even existed as a particularly distinct concept?
    Quote Originally Posted by Internet Random #1 View Post
    Novels written for the recognition of national character exist. Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere is the example that comes to mind. Eugene Onegin is one that represented to many Russians a national character, see Dostoevsky’s speech at the dedication of the Pushkin monument. I’m thinking Nationalism, as the historical consideration that each language should have its own nation, thus its literature would represent both its character and the epitome of its language. There are several especially before the First World War. Ulysses is the ultimate critique of this concept because the English stole the Irish land and killed the language, so to write a national epic in a conquerors language can be read as a larger critique of the nature of art under empire. Also, the Henriad has been considered a national epic. Arguably Wagner brought about the return of the epic form. For lack of a better term, nationalist novels is what people who say “the great American novel” refer to.

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    I have had this on my shelf since last summer and not read it yet, too scared

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    I was doing quite well with this last year, was being propelled along by the audio book—but I checked today and I had done 7 hours out of 27 hours. While I was reading it I was overjoyed by how great it was, it was living up to all the hope I had invested in it over the years. But, while I'd managed to get through the Proteus bit I hadn't got to the really hard, boring bits yet.
    Αι ψυχαί οσμώνται καθ΄ Άιδην.

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    When I do get around to it, I'm not gonna tell anyone, therefore relieving that pressure. I'll just satisfy myself that people will be able to see me on the train with it

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    I'm not sure why but Joyce became a very important figure for me when I was about 17/18, I guess I arrived at him through the Beat writers that all 17/18 year old nerds are required to be obsessed with (Burroughs, Kerouac, Miller, etc.—leading to Rimbaud, et al). I think it might have been the artistic egotism—the belief that being a bookish person could be compatible with getting drunk and whoring (Joyce as bohemian Beat precursor) and use language to connect with some great universal energy. And also just his formidable reputation as the most difficult, most demanding author, the biggest genius, etc. So that to have read and understood 'Ulysses' would mean that—complete sexual failure notwithstanding—I would be somehow better than the others, initiated into a great secret.

    Of course I read 'Portrait of the artist' more or less uncomprehendingly. Then years later, at university, 'Dubliners'—rapturously, in the case particularly of 'The Dead'. Then I read Ellmann's biography of Joyce (discovering that we shared the same birthday—KISMET!). Then I delayed reading 'Ulysses', for years and years until last year when I read about a quarter of it and then stopped for some reason.

    But like I said, the little I did read of 'Ulysses' was enough to prove to me that he was the daddy after all. A poetic virtuoso perhaps on a par with Shakespeare. (Come on then, Luka, come and have a go if you think you're hard enough!)
    Αι ψυχαί οσμώνται καθ΄ Άιδην.

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    Didn't we do a thread about this somewhere already? Or was that just the 'what are you reading?' thread
    Αι ψυχαί οσμώνται καθ΄ Άιδην.

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    Yeah, we talked about it a bit in What are you reading? a while back; luka had me drop everything and read the first fifty pages or so on the spot.

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    How much have you read? He told me to read don quixote instead, which i enjoyed. Luka the dinner lady what a mischief maker

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    Those first fifty pages then bits and pieces. There's an online version I sometimes flick through.

    http://www.online-literature.com/james_joyce/ulysses/

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