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3.31.2016

Ulysses by James Joyce

So yeah.  Managed to get through this one.  With the help of a little friend that I like to call LibriVox, since that's what it's name is.

Maybe just a bit out of my depth.

Since I love him so much, I have to juxtapose Ulysses' Jewish character, Bloom, with Malamud's Morris Bober in The Assistant.  And well, let's just say Malamud is much more concerned with getting the ethos or soul of Judiasm.  Joyce, I sensed, not so much.  He made superficial references to  Bloom's memories of reading the Haggadah at Passover and to experiences of anti-semitimsim; but well, honestly it seemed as though Bloom could just as easily have been a Protestant or a Catholic; nothing about him really seemed characteristically Jewish.


In choosing a Jew as a main character I sensed that Joyce is going beyond writing what he knows about it, since, let's face it, after reading Portrait you can see this guy was (to use his own phrase) super-saturated in Catholicism, to the exclusinon of other perspectives.

Alright, so yeah that was a bit of a disappointment.  Since I guess that I do find Judaism interesting.

Joyce also made also made a refernece at the beginning about Jews ruling communities and at the same time being persecuted, making me think that this might be a theme, but really it wasn't.

So yeah, let's go back to Malamud again, this book is a bit like The Natural (or was The Natural a bit like Ulysses, anyway, since it was written afterwards) in that it told the story of a modern-day circumstances.  I guess that my question is, what is the point or theme of the book other than a retelling of an ancient story?

This book's really out of my depth, consider for example the chapter where Joyce imitates the writing style of many English writers before him.  Wouldn't have recognized the other writers since I had never read any of them!

My favorite chapter was probably the one where Bloom is sitting on a bench watching the girls and the kids they're babysitting then starts to masturbate when one of the girls shows him a bit of her ankle and upper leg.  Dunno why I liked it so much, perhaps the imagery of the sea and the sunset, the people praying at the chapel nearby, and most definitely of Blooms thought process throughout; how he's bemoaning the fact that his wife's had sex earlier with another man; just the rambling of his inner thoughts.

I guess that this stream of consciousness is probably the soul of this book.  That's Joyce's strength, I'd say.  The ability to chart a persons inner thoughts.  and then to write them articulately.

Interesting to hear Molly's perspective on the marriage at the end, you see how Bloom is unreliable, as she's had only one lover (her current one) compared to the 30 or so he's estimated she's had.  (And, to Molly's way of thinking, he's the real philanderer in the marriage).

And......there you have it.  Guess that's all I have to say about Ulysses.  For now anyway.

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