I have finished Ulysses. I have been talking about finishing (and even starting) Ulysses for about ten years and now it’s done. It’s done done done done done!
I haven’t really got much to say about Ulysses, which probably sounds insane. It may have broken my brain into several pieces and I can hardly say I enjoyed it (people do I’m told). I don’t feel there’s anything of value in me reviewing it as I don’t know what to say but I have taken some clippings from the novel, albeit mainly when I was enthusiastic near the beginning, and think I’ll share them as examples of Joyce at his best and also at his craziest.
The first thing I highlighted was a single world:
I don’t think I highlighted this for its brilliance, I just had a totally what the flipping feck moment when I read and continued without trying to understand.
Next I highlighted a passage which could be analysed in thousands of words on its own:
Noon slumbers. Kevin Egan rolls gunpowder cigarettes through fingers smeared with printer’s ink, sipping his green fairy as Patrice his white.
This is one of my favourite sentences in the novel. It says everything it needs to say and more. Although this is a close second, I do like sausages:
The shiny links, packed with forcemeat, fed his gaze and he breathed in tranquilly the lukewarm breath of cooked spicy pigs’ blood.
In fact, Joyce’s food descriptions in general are amongst his best, I wanted to eat the majority of things he described:
Hot mockturtle vapour and steam of newbaked jampuffs rolypoly poured out from Harrison’s. The heavy noonreek tickled the top of Mr Bloom’s gullet.
I spotted one example of intertextuality, as if I’m doing my GCSEs again as at one point Gretta Conroy is mentioned and she’s one of the key characters in The Dead which is one of Joyce’s works that I completely adore.
If nothing else, despite the length of the novel, Joyce can say a lot in a very few words. Have you ever read a more perfect description of having a bath?
Enjoy a bath now: clean trough of water, cool enamel, the gentle tepid stream. This is my body.
Well I haven’t anyway. I don’t know how I feel about Ulysses at all. It isn’t anywhere nearing my favourites, classics or not, but I do love Joyce’s use of language and maybe that’s the point? There are theories and theses and hundreds of thousands of words dedicated to Ulysses. Hell there’s even Bloomsday so it’s obviously got something that means something to a lot of people. I personally prefer his other works but HAVE FINALLY DEFEATED THE MONSTER.
Finnegan’s Wake next right?