June 16, 2016

So it’s Bloomsday again.


I would like to love Ulysses. So many authorities call it the English-speaking world’s, and James Joyce’s, best novel, that my dislike of the work makes me question my own taste in literature.

A book club that I’m in attempted Ulysses a couple of years ago. One member left the group. Only one of us finished, and she told of a mighty struggle, and the help of a reading guide. Our discussion about it required much more wine than usual, which is saying something.

I’ve tried to read Ulysses several times, and always put it down in bewilderment. I found it self-indulgent, riddled with insider secrets that only a Dubliner would know, impenetrable. Such criticisms are leveled at academics who use bafflegab to make their audience believe they’re brilliant — but I believe from Joyce’s other works that he was indeed brilliant.

Perhaps Joyce was having us on with Ulysses? Could he be laughing in his grave? If I were Irish perhaps I’d understand what Joyce admirers see in Ulysses. I refuse to believe that all of the book’s fans are masochists …

Still, to fans of Ulysses, I raise a cheer: Happy Bloomsday.

Copyright Deborah Jones 2016