In honor of the greatest novel of the 20th century and the day it took place, I’m devoting this post to Ulysses. It took me three different attempts to finish, as it is a colossus of a book. Each time I got a little bit further, before I finally ended up finishing it due to a bet. I won’t give a detailed analysis of it, but the the thing that struck me about Ulysses was how simple its plot was. The fact that its plot revolves around Leopold Bloom’s journey around Dublin on a voyage of self-discovery, takes nothing away from the novel. The prose if full of beauty, and surprises, and being Joyce deconstructing the way sentences could be put together. Ulyssess is already cluttered enough with its allusions to the Odyssey, the English language, inside jokes, and of course Catholicism.
If there were ever a book that felt like an album it would be Ulysses. Each section feels completely different, yet they all seen to be sewn together as one, and make the book work as a whole. And like many good albums have done, it shattered the premonitions of what art could do, and also caused its fair share of controversy. Someone once told me that Joyce constructed Ulysses with so many secrets that scholars and readers would be discussing it for centuries to come. I find that to not only be true, but also fascinating. Every artist wants to be remembered for their work and achieve longevity, but to constantly find something new in a work almost a century later is true artistic immortality.
Also check out my post on James Joyce and Bob Dylan.