Well. I did it. I read every single word in Ulysses. Every. Single. Word. There are many words in Ulysses. Some of them are long. Some of them are short. Some are made up. Some are weird hybrids.
Some of them, strung together in sentences and paragraphs, have meaning that swooshed right over my head, so far above that it didn't even ruffle my hair.
What is this book about? What's the meaning?
Would I read it again to try and glean more insight?
Oh, HELL, no.
And the last chapter thoroughly annoyed me. It has no punctuation. Now, that doesn't mean Joyce wrote a 40-page sentence, which, while likely tedious, would have been an accomplishment. No. He just wrote a chapter with lots of sentences and no punctuation.
But I'm glad I read it once. I wish the edition I read (the Gabler edition, pictured above) had not spent so much of its preface, introduction, and afterword discussing the difficulties in coming up with a correct edition, given how Joyce edited almost continuously. Yes, that's interesting, but for a book as difficult as this one, could we have more discussion of the book itself?
And there were things I liked. Sentences I more than admired--I loved them and wished I had written them. Things that were funny, like Joyce's funny asides about a bad cup of coffee: "Over his untasteable apology for a cup of coffee" and "Stephen…shoved aside his mug of coffee, or whatever you like to call it."
"Like him was I, these sloping shoulders, this gracelessness. My childhood bends beside me. Too far for me to lay a hand there once or lightly. Mine is far and his secret as our eyes. Secrets, silent, stony sit in the dark palaces of both our hearts: secrets weary of their tyranny: tyrants, willing to be dethroned."
"Every life is many days, day after day. We walk through ourselves, meeting robbers, ghosts, giants, old men, young men, wives, widows, brothers-in-love, but always meeting ourselves."
"The aged sisters draw us into life: we wail, batten, sport, clip, clasp, sunder, dwindle, die: over us dead they bend."
I could go on. There are many such passages. And equally many fairly gross scenes--lots of bodily fluids in this book. And a surprisingly frank look at one woman's sexuality.
So. Done. Now excuse me, I have a Stephen King book waiting for me at the library.