Thursday, May 31, 2012


Finished! Well, after getting halfway things got very abstract and I skipped a large chunk, to the last chapter, the ingeniously written soliloquy of Molly Bloom. Those stream of consciousness parts I've never seen equaled, written in the uncoordinated way we feel and think on various levels at once.

I think I read somewhere that Joyce was the writer’s writer, the attention to detail, the crunch under one’s foot when walking in the woods or the little train of thoughts seeing a mother and child may start, it inspires you to be more aware of all that happens in a day.

Ulysses is the quintessential experimental, modern novel. The synopsis on Wikipedia was very helpful, below is an example of one of the more challenging chapters. That and the picture below (which I by chance walked past the other day) sums up my experience quite well. 

(Leopold) Bloom visits the maternity hospital where Mina Purefoy is giving birth, and finally meets Stephen, who is drinking with Buck Mulligan and his medical student friends. They continue on to a pub to continue drinking, following the successful birth of the baby. This chapter is remarkable for Joyce's wordplay, which seems to recapitulate the entire history of the English language. After a short incantation, the episode starts with latinate prose, Anglo-Saxon alliteration, and moves on through parodies of, among others, Malory, the King James Bible, Bunyan, Defoe, Sterne, Walpole, Gibbon, Dickens, and Carlyle, before concluding in a haze of nearly incomprehensible slang.

Robert Motherwell, Ulysses (1947) "named after James Joyce's famous modernist novel Ulysses (1922) which Motherwell first read while travelling though Europe in 1935. Joyce's style of writing, in particular his use of the technique known as 'stream of consciousness', had a profound effect on Motherwell, who believed that art should be an expression of the innermost thoughts and feelings of the artist." (from Tate website

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