Monday, 22 June 2009
Ulysses Reading Challenge
A long time ago in a University far away in a seminar on Dystopian Literature for a Master's degree, a group of postgraduate students admitted to having successfully avoided reading Ulysses by James Joyce during their University career thus far; considering that for most of the group our alma mater had been the same University and Ulysses a set text in our second year, this was no mean feat (and no mean city). "How could you possibly not have read Ulysses?" asked the baffled Professor; "Just lucky, I guess" quipped I.
Not that I haven't attempted Ulysses, especially during that horrible second year, and I even managed some of it but gave up in the end and managed to fluff my way through. A few years later I even read A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, the Künstlerroman of Stephen Dedalus, as an access point into Ulysses, but even though I eventually completed it I did struggle and ... gave up. I fared better with Dubliners for a Postcolonialism course but it still didn't inspire me to tackle the tome that I had experienced so little success with.
However, on Bloomsday I read dovegreyreader's post about her ambition to conquer her own personal Everest and decided to join her (as did many others) on the climb (specifics of the challenge can be found here). Why not? I thought. Another attempt, third? fourth? is long overdue and what she was proposing -two pages a day at least- sounded completely manageable to me. Saying that, I procrastinated over beginning it but today I caught up and read ten installments from DailyLit. So far I am pleasantly surprised at the ease of reading it although most of the content is going over my head.
My copy of Ulysses is currently residing at home with my parents; to be honest I didn't think I would be tackling it anytime soon so left it there (although, on the other hand, I brought Joyce's Magnum Opus, Finnegan's Wake, with me so there must be a suppressed optimist within my depths somewhere). Currently I am reading the DailyLit installments but I have requested a copy from the library to carry on with and, if I haven't given up yet again, I'll retrieve my own copy from home later this summer. I am confident that I will experience success this time but I make no promises. If nothing else this is a gap in my reading that seems like a gaping chasm to me and one that I am determined to fill in.
Is there anyone else joining dovegreyreader on this challenge? Are we all crazy?