Tackling Joyce's Ulysses
James Joyce's Ulysses is regarded as one of the more difficult and revolutionary texts in the world of modern literature. Written during the modernist era, it found its way onto my list of prescribed books for my third year english seminar. Mostly due to my youthful naivety, I opted to read this bible of a text, thinking it would be a fun and intellectual experience. I could't have underestimated my journey with Ulysses more ...
Aside from the abundance of references, from Shakespeare, to Oscar Wilde, to Homeric Hymns, Ulysses is a text for every possible, conceivable thing. The level of thought provoking-ness is unimaginable, and it has caused me to re-visit my conception of a novel, what the role of structure is, and what classifies an individual as a character in a text.
In Ulysses, style becomes a character that is able to write the text itself. This is such a new, and unthought of concept to me, that it takes a long time to understand that a character is not defined to the two dimensions of the world created by the author. This is something especially significant to me as I have been slowly working on my own novel, during the course of my travels. Now obviously it is in no way similar to Ulysses, but the thought provoking ideas from Joyce's text has really made me re-think some of the aspects of my writing.
So from me, a 20 year old South African about to graduate university with a degree in English Literature, to you, the reader from some place in the world unbeknownst to me, a small piece of advice ... take up the challenge and read Ulysses. Read it by yourself, without external interpretations or opinions, find the nuances that Joyce offers you so freely, and form your own opinions. Reading this text will open up so many doors to you, and it would be such a shame for you to never have a chance to explore all those new and mysterious rooms.