I was going to do one of those grand summing up type posts yesterday, but then I was longer at work than I expected and I didn’t finish a book, let alone all of them. I’m blaming James Joyce for this. Now it’s a bright shiny new year full of challenges, with a couple hanging on from last year. Ulysses being the main one. I’m about a third of the way. So far almost keeping up with Roof Beam Reader though I seem to be slowing down.
One thing that surprised me in Ulysses is how much Shakespeare there is, particularly Hamlet. In fact, one of the dullest passages to me was Stephen Dedalus and co. discussing Hamlet and Will. This is very strange – that it was dull, I mean – because I’m quite into ol’ Will and particularly Hamlet and yet all I wanted was for him to get back to Bloom. Bloom who does nothing but extremely pedestrian things like eat liver and buy soap. Why is he so compelling? Is it his relationship with his wife? Is it his quest to put this ad in the paper? Is it that you get inside his head? I’m up to the sirens section and quite enjoying the bits in the bar despite not enough Leopold. It’s strange to have this ebb and flow of understanding. Some sections are quite clear. Easy to follow though I know I’m missing tons of stuff. And I’m reading the annotated version half the time so it will say things like Bloom doesn’t want to be seen by Blazes Boylan and I’m damned if I can figure out how they know it’s Boylan he doesn’t want to be seen by.
But then he manages to draw an amazing picture with very little in the way of description. I’ve got a whole picture of the bar in the Ormond Hotel and Miss Douce and Miss Kennedy and Pat the waiter, waiting, in my head and probably it’s nothing like the picture anyone else has of it, but there it is all filled in without paragraphs of description. And where did I leave off? I read a lot of it twice that way. Can’t hurt. But it’s good to know a bit of Hamlet along with knowing a bit of the Odyssey and the fact I saw Parnell on Masterpiece Theater yonks ago is also beneficial. The singing. I read this. Blazes should have walked to Molly’s, it’s taking forever to drive. Why does Bloom know about this? The letter – past that. No, not really past it. Right there where I left off.
Anyhoo, time to read many books. 52 at least. Supposedly. We shall see. Not off to a good start. 14 hours in and I haven’t read word one.