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{tackling ulysses}

I think, out of all of the books I have read from The Gilmore Girls List thus far, James Joyce’s Ulysses has been the most challenging, rewarding, and confusing.  I can definitely see how there could be entire college courses based on this piece of literature.

I have a love-hate relationship with this book.  There were times when I hated it and had to walk away; but there were also times that I loved it and kind of even enjoyed it, in a weird, twisted, sort of way.  I loved and enjoyed the challenge of it.  And it was a challenge.

It is probably the book I am the most proud of finishing.  The only one I can see topping it is Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake, which, based on reviews, sounds even more challenging.  I am going to wait awhile before I start that one though…

It took me just over a year, the internet, and a good dictionary to read it cover to cover.  I don’t know how people read this before the internet was a thing.  I guess you would need a really good set of encyclopedias.  And probably access to a good library.

{tackling ulysses} well loved book

This is what my copy looks like.  A little beat up or, more accurately, extremely loved.

I marked each chapter, because they are only marked in this edition by the capitalization of the first line, easily missed if you aren’t paying attention.  I used three different colors to separate the different parts of the book (I, II, and III).

I will not pretend to fully comprehend everything in this book.  I do not completely grasp why Joyce used the different writing styles when he did, or if there was even a significance behind it.  However, I did stumble my way through to the end and I do have a basic understanding of what the characters went through on that spring day in Dublin, Ireland.

I tried to just take a step back and read it without thinking too hard about it.  I think that was the only way I could get through the whole thing in a timely manner.

I did try to delve in deep and pick apart every little thing, for a little bit.  All of the words not used regularly, all of the dated references, the many people mentioned, the necessary translations from the many languages used…EVERYTHING.  I made it into the third chapter and then just couldn’t do it anymore.  Not with a one year old Little Monster running around.  Even now I would love to keep going with it; but I just don’t have the time or the energy to give it my all.

{tackling ulysses} notes

This is what the first page of chapter three looks like in my {well loved} copy of Ulysses.

I used different colors to highlight different things.  Blue was for characters, orange for translations, purple for quotes I really enjoyed (there actually were a few of these!), yellow for definitions, green for things I looked up – be it references, quotes from other works, old songs or riddles.

{tackling ulysses} wind quote

One of the quotes I highlighted with purple.  😉

{tackling ulysses} thought quote

And another, probably one of the more quoted lines of the books.

{tackling ulysses} funny quote

I even found humor in it.  Yes, humor.  In Ulysses.  I know, crazy!  I just think the idea of a pier being a “disappointed bridge” is pretty funny.

It took a lot of time.  A LOT.  Which is why I stopped with the third chapter.  I would love to go back to it some day though…

Have you tackled Ulysses yet?!

I highly recommend that you give it a go!

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