Ulysses: Final Thoughts

At page 613, I’m giving up on reading the rest of Ulysses. If I’m honest though, I actually gave up at page 479, halfway through the chapter The Joyce Project labeled “Circe.” At that point, I started scanning pages, desperately trying to find the thread I had lost, wondering if there was any point in continuing.

ulysses book cover
Seems a shame, doesn’t it?

The first chapters, as I said in my first post about the book, felt strange and disjointed, but I could see the style and pick up most of what was going on. Much of what I was missing were historical and cultural references. The Joyce Project website helped translate and explain some of it and I was able to keep on reading.

I never felt bogged down, for some strange reason. Each page had a feeling that it was conveying even if I didn’t understand all of what was happening. I felt like I was mining for gold. I’d lose the vein for a while, but if I kept digging, I’d find it again and get rich on insight, right?

Nope. It just kept getting more and more strange. If felt like I was watching a person go completely insane, uncomfortable. And since the man is dead, and there’s nothing I can do to help him now, I had to turn my back on him.

I felt bad putting it down. There are few classics that I haven’t finished, just for the sake of finishing. There’s always something to be learned from the work, even if I don’t study it academically, but not this one. The only thing I learned was that I might not read any more James Joyce. I read Dubliners last year and wasn’t a fan of that either, but at least it didn’t make me feel like I was in the presence of madness.

So… let’s see here.

I was at page 479 of 783 and had spent 19.67 hours in the book. That means a rate of 24 pages an hour (max), I would have been in the book another 13 hours at least. That translates to another week of reading something that was not making me feel good at all.

With respect, I’m calling it a DNF. I’m sure there’s a reason this book is still in print and considered a classic, I’m just not willing to spend any more time trying to find out why. It’s not my bag, baby!

What’s next? I believe I will take on something a little easier, A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles.

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