So: I read me some Ulysses last week.
To an extent, I did so knowing that this wouldn’t be a fully immersive experience — I had dim memories of a Martin Amis essay on Joyce’s novel rattling around in my head, had some trepidations about approaching it without a small reference library by my side, and then decided to delve in anyway.
Having finished the novel on Saturday night, I feel sure that I “got” maybe a third of it — there are classical allusions and references to Irish politics of the early 20th century that went more or less over my head. I acknowledged this going in, which may read as blasphemous to some. Honestly, my goal here was to simply read the novel. It had been sitting on my shelf unread for years, and it seemed like a good enough time to read it. It won’t be the only time I do so, I suspect, and I wanted to have one session with the book with which I couldÂ simply immerse myself in its pacing and its rhythms.
For the record: it left me wrenched and deeply, deeply moved and, for the bulk of it, utterly thrilled at what could be done, and what was done, with the words on a page.