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 K├╝nstlerroman 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?

13 comments:

Mary said...

I am in awe of you and your optimism! I'll be curious to hear how you stay sane/awake/motivated as you tackle this book.

Lezlie said...

I just finished it a couple of weeks ago, otherwise I would have totally joined you! Good luck, and I'll be cheering for you!

Lezlie

Paperback Reader said...

Oh Mary, it's so good to hear from you! (It's bunny, in case you weren't aware). Please stay tuned for the updates as I go along...

Lezlie, thank you! Have you blogged on Ulysses? I'll need to go check.
Do you have any advice?

Lezlie said...

Here is the link to my thoughts:

http://booksnbordercollies.blogspot.com/2009/05/ulysses.html

The best advice I can give is to read something like Cliff Notes along with it and then just go with the flow. Don't try to understand every word, or it gets frustrating.

Lezlie

claire said...

I was tempted when I read dovegreyreader's post but remembered I promised myself no reading challenges with anyone else next year, as I intend to read at my own pace then, as opposed to now, where most of my reading is dictated by read-alongs and challenges. Good luck to all of you!! :D

Savidge Reads said...

I am indeed joining you on this, am really looking forward to it! So far havent read a page though which is a bit rubbish! I must give it some attention as the 16th will be hear before you know it!

Paperback Reader said...

Claire, this is the first read-along that I am participating in but I do intend to take it my own pace and see how it goes.

Simon, I'm glad to hear it. Yes, the 16th will come around before we know it, which is why I tried to get a bit of a headstart today - hopefully I can maintain it!

farmlanebooks said...

I'm joining in, and yes we are all crazy! I'm going to have to get a study guide, as I haven't a clue what is happening so far!

I think I'm going to have to get a copy of the book soon though, as Daily Lit doesn't really make it easy to flick back to various sections that need re-reading. Let's hope we can make it to the end!

Paperback Reader said...

Jackie, I didn't want to mention you in my post in case you felt pressurised to stick with it! We shall overcome Ulysses!

I agree to finding DailyLit somewhat. limiting.

JoAnn said...

I was certainly tempted, but decided the time just wasn't right for me. I'll be following your progress and cheering from the sidelines - Good luck!!

Paperback Reader said...

Thank you, JoAnn; I appreciate the support. The timing is particularly good for me at the moment and who knows whether I will have as good a time again to pursue the reading.

Doigy said...

I am so glad to be in the postion where I don't have to read this, having done so nearly 13 years ago. I couldn't bear the thought of reading it now!

Paperback Reader said...

Well congratulations for at least having done so. I need to read it so that it stops being the book that I never read.