I've been keeping it quiet on here cos I don't want to jinx it, but I'm trying again. I started trying on Feb 2nd, my birthday and Joyce's, with the aim of finishing by June 16th Bloomsday.
However, so far I've just got to 'Hades', which is as far as I've ever got. Trying to do a 'chapter' (or whatever they are) a day, propelled along by the audiobook and checking footnotes on my kindle annotated copy. The annotations take the pace out of it but they have helped clarify things for me more than I've ever had them clarified before—especially 'proteus'.
Anyway, so much to admire. The chapter I read yesterday 'Lotos Eaters' is probably the most boring chapter so far, until Bloom stops in at a Church and watches the mass being performed, much enjoyable blasphemy but also (characteristically of Bloom) much sympathy too.
I've grasped this time around, as I haven't quite before, how impressively Stephen and Bloom's streams of consciousness differ, while resembling each other in (for example) their essential inability to focus on one thing for too long without being distracted, their thoughts disturbed by an attractive woman, or the dream of an attractive woman, snatches of songs etc. Bloom's intellectual limitations, Stephen's emotional limitations.
The scene where Bloom regards his cat with kind curiosity - compare Stephen's observation of the dog on the beach. Both super acute, made visible by Joyce, but seen in different ways by these very different men. I was reading Pound reviewing 'Dubliners' earlier and he compliments Joyce on writing "a clear hard prose. He deals with subjective things, but he presents them with such clarity of outline that he might be dealing with locomotives or with builders' specifications... I think he excels most of the impressionist writers because of his more rigorous selection, because of his exclusion of all unnecessary detail."
It would seem strange to apply these descriptions to Ulysses, with its profusion of seemingly (but of course not) unnecessary details, the difficulty of understanding what's going on, etc. But of course this is a result of his attempt to represent the messy mind. And in amongst the confusion there's always bit of absolutely exact descriptions of the world around them.
A random peach: when Bloom takes the tabloid to the outhouse and reads a story submitted to it, while shitting (and enjoying it). He feels the story is clever, he inwardly compliments it (typical generosity), which in the introduction to my hardback copy of it Craig Raine says shows Bloom is a philistine. But I feel this misses the point of Bloom tearing the story off immediately after deeming it 'clever' 'poetic' and wipes his arse with it. It's a clever story, but instinctively he knows it hasn't moved him, it's fit for the poo pile.
I think with 'Ulysses' I've got through these initial chapters many times, they're quite approachable, but always glancing with fear and loathing at the horribly long and boring bits. I sneaked a peak at the catechism section the other night, though, and found it very interesting and funny.
So there it is! I'm reading it. I'll not talk about it as much as possible on here and try and read the fucking thing.