Sunday, August 23, 2009

Some Clarity........

Good Morning Hawaii. The sun is shining and the birds are chirping.
I spent all evening going over Ulysses and then turned to the study guide I bought at the used book store. It was fortuitous. It is by Stuart Gilbert and the last time this particular version was published was in 1958. After being 8 episodes deep in Uylsses cross eyed and having drool dripping on my bib, I thought, somethings gotta give. I have a tendency to be lazy (admitting it is half the battle) but always am proud when I put in the effort to understand something to the best of my abilities. Of course, I am under a time restraint. If I read 2 books a week, I will achieve my goal of a 100 books in 365 days (I am having trouble with the countdown clock, I'm working on it.) Ulysses is a commitment of longer devotion; whereas some books will take less devotion. I would like to also pick up a copy of The Odyssey. So, I would say so far one would need a study guide, The Odyssey and the book to have a somewhat cohesive experience with Ulysses. We'll see.
After reading and then going to the study guide, it was like seeing the dawn. I also went to wikipedia and checked out a site summarizing The Odyssy (not Odysseus, that is the main character). It was beneficial to have an overview. Ulysses is a latinized version of the name Odysseus. Ulysses is also the sequel (kind of) of the Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Stephen Dedalus is the main character of this story (which is on the list #3). Mr. Bloom is the main character of Ulysses (he is Ulysses or Odysseus). It is his odyssey.
I realized that the book is divided into the same episodes as the Odyssey, so it will be easier to draw the parallels. The inner monologues and silent monologues apparently are what set this book apart at the time of its release. Even though this is the hardest part to follow, I feel a renewed optimism to retackle the narrative pieces. I started reading the guide right at page 1, reading it beforehand did nothing for me because it had no contextual meaning.
I'll end with an excerpt from Gilbert (who by the way interviewed Joyce) that really hit home.

"It is possible to read Ulysses as most of us read the book of life, uncritically, forgetfully, following the line of least resistance; and, though a greater vigilance would afford a richer pleasure in perusal, the casual reader will reap a reward proportionate to his effort....... But the bliss of ignorance is a short and sorry affair beside the subtle delectation of the connoisseur. The slow ascent of the tree of knowledge is not labour lost; it is from the topmost branches, unseen by followers of the beaten track, that its choices fruits depend."

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