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45 pages in, I'm tapping out. Ulysses sucks.

Rest

All these years later I still chuckle at what a fucking moron that guy is.
I started reading Ulysses this week. I was curious about the reputation it has; critics for the last 100 years have called it a masterpiece. Writers have been more divided. Non industry people whom I've seen discuss it always say things like "I tried to read it" or "I couldn't read it" or "I didn't finish it." It has been described as a difficult read, a challenging book, and "dense." None of that is true.

Ulysses is not a story. Stories convey ideas, touch on emotions, share experiences, and give humans the opportunity to share life with other humans. Ulysses does not do that. For example:

them bloody well boulders, bones for my
steppingstones. Feefawfum. I zmellz de bloodz odz an Iridzman.

A point, live dog, grew into sight running across the sweep of sand.
Lord, is he going to attack me? Respect his liberty. You will not be
master of others or their slave. I have my stick. Sit tight. From farther
away, walking shoreward across from the crested tide, figures, two. The
two maries. They have tucked it safe mong the bulrushes. Peekaboo. I see
you. No, the dog. He is running back to them. Who?

Galleys of the Lochlanns ran here to beach, in quest of prey, their
bloodbeaked prows riding low on a molten pewter surf. Dane vikings, torcs
of tomahawks aglitter on their breasts when Malachi wore the collar of
gold. A school of turlehide whales stranded in hot noon, spouting,
hobbling in the shallows. Then from the starving cagework city a horde of
jerkined dwarfs, my people, with flayers' knives, running, scaling,
hacking in green blubbery whalemeat. Famine, plague and slaughters. Their
blood is in me, their lusts my waves. I moved among them on the frozen
Liffey, that I, a changeling, among the spluttering resin fires. I spoke
to no-one: none to me.

The dog's bark ran towards him, stopped, ran back. Dog of my
enemy. I just simply stood pale, silent, bayed about. TERRIBILIA MEDITANS.
A primrose doublet, fortune's knave, smiled on my fear. For that are you
pining, the bark of their applause? Pretenders: live their lives. The
Bruce's brother, Thomas Fitzgerald, silken knight, Perkin Warbeck, York's
false scion, in breeches of silk of whiterose ivory, wonder of a day, and
Lambert Simnel, with a tail of nans and sutlers, a scullion crowned. All
kings' sons. Paradise of pretenders then and now. He saved men from
drowning and you shake at a cur's yelping. But the courtiers who mocked
Guido in Or san Michele were in their own house. House of ... We don't
want any of your medieval abstrusiosities. Would you do what he did? A
boat would be near, a lifebuoy. NATURLICH, put there for you. Would you or
would you not? The man that was drowned nine days ago off Maiden's rock.
They are waiting for him now. The truth, spit it out. I would want to.
I would try. I am not a strong swimmer. Water cold soft. When I put my
face into it in the basin at Clongowes. Can't see! Who's behind me? Out
quickly, quickly! Do you see the tide flowing quickly in on all sides,
sheeting the lows of sand quickly, shellcocoacoloured? If I had land under
my feet. I want his life still to be his, mine to be mine. A drowning man.
His human eyes scream to me out of horror of his death. I ... With him
together down ... I could not save her. Waters: bitter death: lost.
What in the ever loving fuck is that trying to communicate? That's an actual page from this book. As a counterexample, here is a page from another "difficult read," also taken out of context:

sleep between shrouds, to use ye to the filling one at last.
Down, dog, and kennel ! '

Starting at the unforeseen concluding exclamation of
the so suddenly scornful old man, Stubb was speechless
a moment ; then said excitedly, ' I am not used to be
spoken to that way, sir ; I do but less than half like it,
sir.'

' Avast ! ' gritted Ahab between his set teeth, and
violently moving away, as if to avoid some passionate
temptation.

' No, sir ; not yet,' said Stubb, emboldened. ' I will
not tamely be called a dog, sir.'

' Then be called ten times a donkey, and a mule, and
an ass, and begone, or clear the world of thee ! '

As he said this, Ahab advanced upon him with such
overbearing terrors in his aspect, that Stubb involuntarily
retreated.

' I was never served so before without giving a hard blow
for it,' muttered Stubb, as he found himself descending
the cabin-scuttle. ' It 's very queer. Stop, Stubb ;
somehow, now, I don't well know whether to go back and
strike him, or what 's that ? down here on my knees
and pray for him ? Yes, that was the thought coming
up in me ; but it would be the first time I ever did pray.
It 's queer ; very queer ; and he 's queer too ; ay, take
him fore and aft, he 's about the queerest old man Stubb
ever sailed with. How he flashed at me ! his eyes like
powder-pans ! is he mad ? Anyway there 's something
on his mind, as sure as there must be something on a deck
when it cracks. He ain't in his bed now, either, more
than three hours out of the twenty-four ; and he don't
sleep then. Didn't that Dough-Boy, the steward, tell
me that of a morning he always finds the old man's ham-
mock clothes all
Both of those pages were picked at random. The second is taken from Moby-Dick, and gives you an actual idea of what the writer is trying to tell you. Past the first chapter, Ulysses doesn't care if you follow what's supposed to be happening, and the reason is because James Joyce was a twat. Let me explain.

I thought that maybe I was missing something, that there might be some kind of context I wasn't understanding, or some obscure literary form Joyce was using that I wasn't familiar with, so I turned to our evil overlords at Google for some answers. In trying to read this book, I was coming to the conclusion that Joyce was a troll, that he was sticking his thumb in the eye of the literary world and playing a joke on pretentious critics and academics. Then I started to read about him, and that illusion was broken. Literary Hub has a useful write up:

In 1902, departing on a first trip to Paris, James told his brother and confidant Stanislaus that should he die during the trip, his poetry and prose “epiphanies” must be sent to all the great libraries of the world, including the Vatican.
Nor, as his parents fought and the family sank into poverty, did Joyce hesitate to contact major figures in the literary world: Ibsen, George Russell, W.B. Yeats, and Lady Augusta Gregory, among others. But even as he made these important contacts, the young man courted rejection; a long letter to Ibsen on his 73rd birthday closes with the idea that the great playwright had “only opened the way” and that “higher and holier enlightenment lies—onward.” It was implicit that Joyce himself would be the bearer of that enlightenment. Having arranged an interview with Yeats, he spent most of the conversation criticizing the older writer, remarking on leaving that “I have met you too late. You are too old.” It was always Joyce’s way to have others understand that he was the more important.​
The habit of forcing himself into the limelight while simultaneously inviting exclusion is another facet that would emerge in his writing. None of Joyce’s major publications—Dubliners, A Portrait, Ulysses, Finnegans Wake—was completed before being offered for publication.
This was a man so convinced that his farts were perfume, and so intent on smelling them, that he managed to lodge his entire head in his own ass. In writing Ulysses, he cared nothing of the reader's experience or even the reader's understanding of the text. Several of the critical articles I read about this book described it as being about communication, and emphasized the risks Joyce took in his use of language. But Ulysses isn't a monument to broad vocabulary and grammatical art, if anything it is the opposite. The book is barely written in English and smacks of self masturbatory sentence construction exercises meant to entertain the ego of its author. Its repetitive use of nonsense compoundments, obscure vocabulary, obtuse references, and made up lingo mean that the final product is little more than pseudo grammatical word salad served with a dressing of schizophrenic Alogia on the side.

My biggest problem with the book is not that it says nothing, because it does in fact say things. The problem I have is that it uses so much space to say so little. Do me a favor and click this link. What you read on that page took Joyce 21 pages. For those of you who didn't click, that webpage contains one line of text. And you didn't miss anything by reading that one line vs. reading Joyce's 21 pages, he really had nothing meaningful to add with the 21 pages of bloat that convey that one line concept. The man wrote an epic length text about nothing.
 
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George Clooney Reaction GIF
 

Wildebeest

Member
I don't know if James Joyce makes more sense if read with a strong Irish accent, but at least it flows better. I'm on team Samuel Beckett myself.
 

LordCBH

Member
I had to read it for a class once. It was absolute dogshit. How anyone can call it a masterpiece blows my mind. I can think of a hundred classics I’d much rather read. The Divine Comedy, The Iliad, literally anything by fucking Charles Dickens.
 

poppabk

Member
I started Ulysses and pretty quickly noped out. I read A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man as a way in and can confirm that Joyce was indeed an arrogant, insufferable twat - and he was quite proud of this fact.
I don't doubt his literary genius and that Ulysses is a monumental work written in a stream of consciousness style that must be insanely difficult to write considering how hard it is to read, but I honestly have no desire to spend anytime on the guys works.
 
Many people try to make excuses for pretentious art, but art speaks for its self. If that video tricks anyone into trying to read this book then they deserve their time sifting through the shit Joyce sent to the printer.
I’ve read the book six times over the past twenty years. I live just outside of Dublin and can visit a lot of the places mentioned in the book so maybe that’s why it resonates with me. Also if you couldn’t finish Ulysses don’t even start Finnegans Wake.
 

Rest

All these years later I still chuckle at what a fucking moron that guy is.
I’ve read the book six times over the past twenty years. I live just outside of Dublin and can visit a lot of the places mentioned in the book so maybe that’s why it resonates with me. Also if you couldn’t finish Ulysses don’t even start Finnegans Wake.
I could finish Ulysses, but I have no inclination to torture my self. I'd rather read something worth my energy.
 

Mamofish

Member
Books for everyone out there. I've never read it but, I enjoyed reading your post and I might actually try myself now. It reads like a persons thoughts. The first paragraph you posted, a man wonders the beach and sees a dog, wonders if it's friendly and creates a plan for defense then sees two figures, the dog is probably with them. Then thinks about past wars which could of happened on that beach, ancestry and goes on and on..

That's what I got out of it at least..

It certainly was very confusing at first and I can see if you are to read this book it's for the exploration in ramble of thoughts rather than the actual story it tells. It reminds me of the frustration I had reading Atlas Shrugged, I felt like Ayn kept explaining a concept over and over in different ways and in my head I was screaming I UNDERSTAND GET ON WITH IT.
 

Rest

All these years later I still chuckle at what a fucking moron that guy is.
Books for everyone out there. I've never read it but, I enjoyed reading your post and I might actually try myself now. It reads like a persons thoughts. The first paragraph you posted, a man wonders the beach and sees a dog, wonders if it's friendly and creates a plan for defense then sees two figures, the dog is probably with them. Then thinks about past wars which could of happened on that beach, ancestry and goes on and on..

That's what I got out of it at least..

It certainly was very confusing at first and I can see if you are to read this book it's for the exploration in ramble of thoughts rather than the actual story it tells. It reminds me of the frustration I had reading Atlas Shrugged, I felt like Ayn kept explaining a concept over and over in different ways and in my head I was screaming I UNDERSTAND GET ON WITH IT.
Definitely give it a try, I actually enjoyed the first chapter. I would say that of what I read, it actually got worse page by page, which is something of an accomplishment in its self. Is that intentional? I don't know, but that is what lead me to believe the Joyce was trolling snobs.

Be aware that there are several different versions. You may want to try an annotated one.
 
Sometimes inscrutable, impenetrable things from certain personalities gain traction as a result of influential voices that are desperate to be in the "in" crowd too. "Oh, you just don't get it. I'm special. You should feel bad for not seeing the "genius". :p

Having said that, different things resonate differently for different people. I wouldn't go so far as to say that *no one* genuinely found it worthwhile, but reputations oftentimes build a life of their own, independent of the source of said reputation.
 

Rest

All these years later I still chuckle at what a fucking moron that guy is.
The Divine Comedy, The Iliad, literally anything by fucking Charles Dickens.
I have Bleak House and Oliver Twist sitting in my to read pile. I started reading the Divine Comedy once, I really like the imagery but didn't finish it at the time. I've been meaning to go back to it but haven't yet. It's been so long that at this point I'll have to start it from the beginning. As for Homer, I haven't read any, but did listen to Ilium and Olympos, which made a compelling introduction.
 

strange headache

Fluctuat nec mergitur
Joyce is a literal literary god, you uneducated swine. Check this out:

Warmth showered gently over him, cowing his flesh. Flesh yielded amply amid rumpled clothes: whites of eyes swooning up. His nostrils arched themselves for prey. Melting breast ointments (for him! for Raoul!). Armpits’ oniony sweat. Fishgluey slime (her heaving embonpoint!). Feel! Press! Cherished! Sulphur dung of lions!

That guy f*cks as evidenced by his dirty love letters:

  • “At such moments I feel mad to do it in some filthy way, to feel your hot lecherous lips sucking away at me, to f*ck between your two rosy-tipped bubbies, to come on your face and squirt it over your hot cheeks and eyes, to stick it up between the cheeks of your rump and bugger you.”
  • “At every f*ck I gave you your shameless tongue come bursting out through your lips and if I gave you a bigger stronger f*ck than usual fat dirty farts came spluttering out of your backside."
  • “You had an arse full of farts that night, darling, and I f*cked them out of you, big fat fellows, long windy ones, quick little merry cracks and a lot of tiny little naughty farties ending in a long gush from your hole.”
Y'all only wish you could screw as well as that guy writes.
 

Jennings

Member
Joyce is a literal literary god, you uneducated swine. Check this out:



That guy f*cks as evidenced by his dirty love letters:

  • “At such moments I feel mad to do it in some filthy way, to feel your hot lecherous lips sucking away at me, to f*ck between your two rosy-tipped bubbies, to come on your face and squirt it over your hot cheeks and eyes, to stick it up between the cheeks of your rump and bugger you.”
  • “At every f*ck I gave you your shameless tongue come bursting out through your lips and if I gave you a bigger stronger f*ck than usual fat dirty farts came spluttering out of your backside."
  • “You had an arse full of farts that night, darling, and I f*cked them out of you, big fat fellows, long windy ones, quick little merry cracks and a lot of tiny little naughty farties ending in a long gush from your hole.”
Y'all only wish you could screw as well as that guy writes.
 

TheInfamousKira

Reseterror Resettler
Into such an endeavor have I ne'er attempted
Such written word is as fiddle-dee non the sense
I gaze upon written words as posited
And smell the smelly bitterness of burnt toast
For in mine brain a vessel does burst
Stroke!
Stroke!
It calls as were it a man with a face and a mouth
And not a jiggly doodad of muscle and sinew
I fall to the floor
A willing participant to mine own personal
Bonfire of the vanities
Burn, tear, destroy;
For Moby Dick this collection of fetid incomprehensible filth is not
Fie! I say unto Joyce and Joyce-kind
A devil and a trickster, who barely sputters intelligible ideas from between forked tongue
Prithee direct me towards works of sturdy mind and I shall direct the bearer of such good news toward happiness
Fuck at forty pages I do declare
Fuck this, fuck him
Fuck the written word, should it be like to this work
The deity above was correct in his appraisal of the Tower of Babel

-fin
 

FunkMiller

Gold Member
I very much enjoyed it. Ulysses is a great character, fighting all the evil forces and bringing peace and justice to all.
 

teezzy

Fantastik Tuna
A lot of classics are less potent now than they were when they released. Not just true of literature, but music, film, video games, and stand up comedy as well.

Art evolves, and while fundamental works can provide stepping stones for later creatives to build upon, they ultimately fall out of relevance as those influenced by them take their lessons learned and surpass then.

It's the nature of things.
 

Scotty W

Member
Have you read the Odyssey, Rest Rest ? My understanding is that you need to read that, Shakespeare, Dubliners and Portrait to get into it.

A lot of classics are less potent now than they were when they released. Not just true of literature, but music, film, video games, and stand up comedy as well.

Art evolves, and while fundamental works can provide stepping stones for later creatives to build upon, they ultimately fall out of relevance as those influenced by them take their lessons learned and surpass then.

It's the nature of things.

I can’t quite agree. Homer is just as potent now as thousands of years ago. Some things are simply unsurpassable. Say Othello- the only problem is that we have grown too coarse and simple to understand it.
 

TheDreadBaron

Gold Member
It sounds like it’s a lot about the rhythm and cadence of the words that give it beauty. I never gravitated towards poetry myself, but from what I understand it’s not about having one clear interpretation. Moby Dick rules!
 

Mossybrew

Member
I lasted longer than you and yeah, it's hot garbage. So is Infinite Jest. If you want to read any "literature" that is actually thought provoking and entertaining read Cormac McCarthy.
 

Scotty W

Member
Op, check out Frank Kermode’s essay, The Man in the Mackintosh about Ulysses. Iirc it is in his book The Genesis of Secrecy. It may make Ulysses seem interesting again.
 

NeoIkaruGAF

Gold Member
You know what? I've never read Ulysses, but what with English not being my first language, the excerpt you posted is clearer to me than I expected.
 

p_xavier

Authorized Fister
The cartoon is amazing, that dub though...
I've yet to hear a good English dub, it always sounds unnatural and many times valley girlish.

Ulysses 31 isone of the few seriesI own not available on Blur-ray, thus still stuck on DVD. I really wish to get rid of all of my DVDs.
 

Cyberpunkd

Gold Member
My father was of the same opinion, he used to say Ulysses was the only book he never finished, and he read thousands of books probably every day for the last few decades.

According to him the book is a giant turd.
 
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