Never before have we been intimidated by a book. Sure, we’ve been plenty intimidated by literary characters, but never a book itself. Ulysses actually had our stomach in knots as we continued to delay the commencement of this readalong. Needless to say, we had some pretty strong preconceptions of what James Joyce was going to bring to the table... still do. It is with a strong dosage of optimism and bravery that we must forge ahead (hopefully the nightmares will improve over time)!
Okay, so far, Ulysses isn’t as bad as we thought, except for Episode 3, but we’ll get there in a minute. In Episode 1 we are introduced to Stephen Dedalus and two of his annoying roommates. The trio indulge in a lively conversation over breakfast regarding some offensive remarks made about Stephen’s mother (God rest her soul). In Episode 2 we glimpse Stephen at work (he’s a teacher) and overhear another lively conversation between him and his boss. There’s a whole lot of philosophizing and some other stuff that we were just barely able to grasp.
As we mentioned, the read was going pretty well for us until Episode 3. At this point the wheels came off, as we were confronted by the dreadful stream of consciousness technique. Instantly, we experienced a horrible flashback to The Sound and the Fury. Why is this style acceptable? How can one possibly sort through random thoughts and flashbacks (there may have even been a flash forward somewhere) presented without dialogue or any other structure. A reader of our mental capacity has no hope. Hold on a second while we wipe the blood streaming from our eyes...
The good news – and there is some reason to rejoice – the plot has not totally escaped us. Yea! In fact, we’re actually looking forward to tackling Part II!