Sunday, 17 June 2012

Ulysses? It's Not All That...

For those who may not be aware, yesterday, June 16th, was Bloomsday in Dublin, traditionally the day, in 1904, on which the story of James Joyce's "Ulysses" takes place.

Friday saw the annual procession of delivery boys (and girls) on bicycles through the city, many if not all in period costume for the occasion. As in previous years, it rained.

There were also readings from Ulysses at various venues throughout the city that either featured in the book or indeed, Joyce's other works.

All of it is lost on me.

I've tried to read Ulysses - seriously, I have, but it's a punishing read, and so far I've been unsuccessful in completing it. I've attempted to read sections, but at least one is nothing more than a 50-plus page, stream-of-consciousness run-on sentence (which flies in the face of everything I was taught in school) and is not unique.

I understand that the novel is based upon the story of Odysseus, but that's about it.

And perhaps I'm showing my ignorance (although I have read Homer), but there appears to be a universal, international appeal to the book that draws people from all over the world to Dublin for June 16th, so who am I to judge?

I would, however, recommend Joyce's "The Dead", a story that I have enjoyed, as well as John Huston's film version from 1987, starring Donal McCann as Gabriel Conroy and Anjelica Huston as Gretta Conroy. I will admit to having seen the movie first, which was reason enough for seeking out the original printed work, and was not disappointed.

But for me, the appreciation of Ulysses is, sadly, something that will have to happen to other people...

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