Ulysses is too Good!

Ulysses is, without a doubt, the greatest book I have ever read. I wouldn’t say it is my personal favorite though, but literary-wise, it is no wonder that it is considered a masterpiece. This is a very strong opinion to claim because literature is very subjective. That may be true, but one can’t ignore its sheer brilliance.

For those who don’t know, Ulysses is about the story of Leopold Bloom, a middle-aged sales advertiser, and Stephen Dedalus, a poet who is very knowledgable about art and history. The whole novel takes place in one day: June 16, 1904. The characters do very ordinary things like going to the post-office, going to the restaurant, or going to a funeral–but what makes it so thrilling is how it is told. Each episode is written in a very different literary style. One episode is written as a play that has a dream-like feel to it. Another episode goes into a question-and-answer way. Another one acts like a cheesy love-drama. It is one of the reason why this book is notoriously difficult, but it is the reason why it is so clever.

James Joyce’s use of language is above and beyond, so much so that I don’t even think any other novel could match his word-smithing. I remembered the experience of reading the first chapter. I was sort of down in the dumps during this time, so to cheer myself up, I thought I should take a crack out of Ulysses. Soon enough, I was laughing so hard. His humor is my thing. The first episode gave me a smile to my face that I felt so much better and slept soundly.

I related a lot with Stephen Dedalus, especially the time when he was all alone on the beach, contemplating his characters and isolation. The Irish culture is encroaching on his individuality as an artist, which I find relatable in my situation . . .

Interestingly enough, I was reading this book when I was editing the manuscript of the third novel to my trilogy, and when trying to customize the back, there is an explicit reference to that novel for reasons that I don’t want to describe in greater length. It is up to you to put the puzzle pieces together, assuming you would read up to the third novel.

The book makes me feel proud to be an avid reader, but I am very surprised that other famous authors I admire dislike this book. Donna Tartt, the author of The Goldfinch, said that she didn’t like Hemingway, nor cared about Ulysses, which was a book Hemingway truly admired. I, myself, love both authors though, but I can understand why Donna would dislike it since she is writing in a radically different style to him. Donna is a Dickensian, a woman of realism and true, factual imagery. Putting Donna and James Joyce together is like putting Caillou and Game of Thrones on the same TV channel.

It is unfortunate how many people dissuade themselves from the book because of how hard it is. Just because something is difficult doesn’t make it bad though. For those who are reading this right now, I wholeheartedly recommend reading Ulysses because it is a reading experience like no other. The Absolutely Fine Novel, in all honesty, can’t even top it. 6 out of 5 stars.

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