Mis-Reading ‘Ulysses’

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I’ve never read James Joyce’s Ulysses. I’m not big on Serious Mainstream Literature. In fact, I’m downright microscopic on it. Every time I read something about it, the adjective “modernist” comes up. To me, that’s a synonym for “crappy.”

Besides, look how thick it is. Not being immortal, I doubt I want to invest that much time in a book that doesn’t spark my interest.

So today I was reading the last story in my Penguin edition of Lord Emsworth Acts for the Best by P.G. Wodehouse, and then went on to the blurbs for other Penguin books. And at the top of the list was Ulysses.

This is what the blurb actually says: “A modernist classic… an imperishable monument to the human condition.”

But this is how my eye read it: “an impenetrable monument.” Oops.

Well, a lot of readers, whose comments I have consulted, have found it to be exactly that: impenetrable. Having little hope of breaking in where they have failed, I’ve decided what I really need is another collection of Wodehouse’s Blandings stories featuring Lord Emsworth, whose mind can’t penetrate anything.

I wonder if he ever read Ulysses. Maybe that’s what happened to him.

6 comments on “Mis-Reading ‘Ulysses’

  1. Funny you should mention “Ulysses”. I am currently reading it (I’ve had to renew it once already), that is after I first read the chapter (but there are no chapters) notes on Cliff Notes for what it is about, otherwise I can’t figure it out. “Modernist” is definitely a buzz word for crap, which applies to “Ulysses” in my estimation.

  2. If you think “Ulysses” is impenetrable, just try Joyce’s later novel, “Finnegan’s Wake.” Compared with that, “Ulysses” is “Dick and Jane.” Frankly, I never made it through either one.

    1. One of my high school English teachers read us a brief passage from “Finnegan’s Wake,” then asked us what we thought of it. I’m afraid I made a rude noise.

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