How to Read James Joyce’s Ulysses (and Why You Should Avoid “How-to” Guides Like This One)

Bloomsday, an annual celebration of James Joyce’s Ulysses, is upon us today with more excitement than ever. Even with the festivities, the book’s reputation for density, erudition, and inscrutability still daunts many readers–leading to a glut of guidebooks, summaries, and annotations. Ironically, rather than inviting first-time readers to the text, the sheer volume of these guides to Ulysses can paradoxically repel. Their very existence seems predicated on an intense need, and although some of the guides out there can be helpful, others can get in the way. This need not be. Ulysses deserves its reputation as one the best books in the English language. It generously overflows with insight into the human experience, and it’s very, very funny. And, most importantly, anyone can read it.

Here are a few thoughts on how to read Ulysses, enumerated–because people like lists:

1. Ignore all guides, lists, maps, annotations, summaries, and lectures. You don’t need them; in fact, they could easily weigh down what should be a fun reading experience. Jump right into the text. Don’t worry about getting all the allusions or unpacking all the motifs.

Pretty soon though, you’ll get to the third chapter, known as “Proteus.” It’s admittedly hard to follow. You might want a guide at this point. Or you might just want to give up. (Of course, you might be a genius and totally get what Stephen is thinking about as he wanders the beach. Good for you). If frustration sets in, I suggest skipping the chapter and getting into the rich, earthy consciousness of the book’s hero, Leopold Bloom in chapter four, “Calypso.” It’s great stuff. You can always go back to chapter three later, of course. The real key, at least in my opinion, to reading (and enjoying) Ulysses is getting into Bloom’s head, matching his rhythm and pacing. Do that and you’re golden.

I’ve already advised you, gentle reader, not to follow any guides, so please, ignore the rest of my advice. Quit reading this post and start reading Ulysses.

For those who wish to continue–

2. Choose a suitable copy of the book. The Gabler edition will keep things neat and tidy and it features wide margins for all those clever game-changing annotations you’ll be taking. Several guides, including Harry Blamire’s The New Bloomsday Book align their annotation to the Gabler edition’s pagination.

3. Make a reading schedule and stick to it. The Gabler edition of Ulysses is nearly 700 pages long. That’s a long, long book–but you can read it in just a few weeks. There are eighteen episodes in Ulysses, some longer and more challenging than others, but reading one episode every two days should be no problem. If you can, try to read one episode in one sitting each day. As the book progresses, you’ll find yourself going back to previous chapters to find the figures, motifs, and traces that dance through the book.

4. So you’ve decided you need a guide. First, try to figure out what you want from the guide. Basic plot summary? Analysis? Explication? There’s plenty out there–too much really–so take the time to try to figure out what you want from a guide and then do some browsing and skimming before committing.

The most famous might be Stuart Gilbert’s James Joyce’s Ulysses, a dour book that manages to suck all the fun out of Joyce’s work. In a lecture on Ulysses, Vladimir Nabokov warned “against seeing in Leopold Bloom’s humdrum wanderings and minor adventures on a summer day in Dublin a close parody of the Odyssey,” noting that “it would be a complete waste of time to look for close parallels in every character and every scene in the book.” Nabokov scathingly continued: “One bore, a man called Stuart Gilbert, misled by a tongue-in-cheek list compiled by Joyce himself, found in every chapter the domination of one particular organ . . . but we shall ignore that dull nonsense too.” It’s perhaps too mean to call Gilbert’s guide “nonsense,” but it’s certainly dull. Harry Blamire’s The New Bloomsday Book is a line-by-line annotation that can be quite helpful when Joyce’s stream of consciousness gets a bit muddy; Blamire’s explications maintain a certain analytical neutrality, working mostly to connect the motifs of the book but letting the reader manage meaning. Don Gifford’s Ulysses Annotated is an encyclopedia of minutiae that will get in the way of any first time reader’s enjoyment of the book. Gifford’s notes are interesting but they can distract the reader from the text, and ultimately seem aimed at scholars and fanatics.

Most of the guidebooks I’ve seen for Ulysses share a common problem: they are obtrusive. I think that many readers who want some guidance or insight to aid their reading of Ulysses, rather than moving between books (what a chore!), should listen to some of the fantastic lectures on Joyce that are available. James Heffernan’s lectures for The Teaching Company provide a great overview of the book with some analysis; they are designed to be listened to in tandem with a reading of the book. Frank Delaney has initiated a new series of podcast lectures called re:Joyce; the first lecture indicates a promising series. The best explication I’ve heard though is a series of lectures by Joseph Campbell called Wings of Art. Fantastic stuff, and probably the only guide you really need. It’s unfortunately out of print, but you can find it easily via extralegal means on the internet. Speaking of the internet–there’s obviously a ton of stuff out there. I’ll withhold comment–if you found this post, you can find others, and have undoubtedly already seen many of the maps, schematics, and charts out there.

5. Keep reading. Reread. Add time to that reading schedule you made if you need to. But most of all, have fun. Skip around. If you’re excited about Molly’s famous monologue at the end of the book, go ahead and read it. Again, the point is to enjoy the experience. If you can trick a friend into reading it with you, so much the better. Have at it.

114 thoughts on “How to Read James Joyce’s Ulysses (and Why You Should Avoid “How-to” Guides Like This One)”

  1. My happiest experience with Ulysses (had first read it twice for college courses) has been the unabridged audio version downloaded from The reader is WONDERFUL.


  2. Thanks for the great post. I’ve been bogging myself down with preparatory reading. I’ve just got to the point where I am going to put it all to one side until a subsequent reading. I did enjoy Frank Delaney’s first paragraph podcast.


  3. Thanks for this – confirmed my gut feeling which was go without guidance first time around – but am about half way through and appreciate the reassurance. Has taken me over a month so far. (Really?? An episode every two days?? ) Been surprised by the number of times it’s made me laugh out loud. I find it It helps also to read with a pen and swear in the margins when necessary.


    1. Glad you’re enjoying it — and finding it funny, myboybill. I’m actually listening to a great audio version right now, complete with a full cast and sound effects — it really energizes the novel. Maybe an episode every two days is ambitious, but I think it’s important to keep on some kind of a schedule if you really want to finish Ulysses (I say this as someone who’s been “reading” Finnegans Wake for like five years now, with no end in sight).


      1. Hey Bibilioklept – finally finished a few weeks ago. I found the leverage needed was disallowing any other fiction until it was completed. Pretty dazzling work of genius. Best of luck with Finnegan’s Wake – you’re a brave soul!


  4. Good advice, all of it. There’s only one thing missing: be brave, and blog your erudite/silly/frustrated/inane responses for other people to enjoy. Put your frustrations and delights out there for everyone and anyone to share. JJ would have loved the idea of ordinary readers doing this; it’s the 21st century way of blathering on about it over a pint down at the pub. It will demystify the book and get it out of the exclusive domain of scholars.
    And because it’s Ulysses, nothing you say can be wrong…


  5. After starting, and quitting, Ulysses several times, I finally finished it this morning – Bloom’s Day. I started last 19 December and read 4.25 pages per day. I did it – I finished it – and I feel a strange sort of contentedness.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I have not read Ulysses yet. People always say its an unreadable book, I must admit I dont really belive in that :). So I really liked your advice, not to read advices. I will follow that advice gladly and just jump into the book.


  7. […] an “adult” and reading Ulysses at a leisurely pace.  Har-har. Biblioklept’s How to Read James Joyce’s Ulysses (and Why You Should Avoid “How-to” Guides Like This One) makes for funny and informative reading.  I don’t always agree with the author.  However, […]


  8. I purposely avoided all commentaries and guides in reading the Bodley Head 1960 edition. I may have lost the plot a bit in the Library and Maternity Hospital but it was great fun. I agree with your title. Don’t let the experts spoil the fun.


    1. Ach! Yeah, the maternity hospital/”Oxen” is . . . difficult . . . probably my least favorite chapter. The library chapter makes more sense the second or third time through the book, though.


  9. I began reading Ulysses in the bookstore and got through the first couple of pages before I hit a wall and flat-out gave up. I then asked my former English literature teacher (she’s an awfully intelligent lady) what she thought of it, to which she replied she couldn’t read it either. Apparently, it’s one of those books that you either love or hate (or probably can/can’t read, respectfully), and I think I find myself on the losing end of that stick, alas. I know it’s a “stream of consciousness” novel that explores the mind of its author, but beyond that I haven’t a clue. Do you have any advice on the frame of mind to be in whilst reading the work so as to make it enjoyable?


    1. Hey, Christopher,

      Have you read A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man? I suggest starting there, if not—it dips into some of Ulysses’ challenging language, foregrounds some of the themes, and helps contextualize the first 3 chapters of Ulysses.

      As far as frame of mind: go with the flow: don’t try to resist the book’s rhythm by imposing your own system of logic (if that makes sense). I’d liken Ulysses in some ways to a Terrence Malick film—it’s really only challenging if you spend most of your time fighting it.

      Finally, it’s a great book to come back to. I don’t know how old you are, but I think that that can make a real difference. I was simply too young and underread my first two attempts (and I really had read a lot; I was an English major, etc.)—but I think it helps to come to the book with some years of experience (life and reading) under your belt.



    2. I started the first chapter about five times over the course of fifteen years and couldn’t make any sense of it. Then I started reading it aloud to my gf as a bedtime story, and around the third time something clicked: suddenly I understood who was saying what to whom, and what was thought but not spoken. It was interesting, it was funny…and then I hit Chapter 3.

      Now it’s five years later and I’m trying again.


  10. I came across this blog post rather late, but thought I’d contribute.
    I’ve avoided Ulysses for years, mainly due to the early confrontation with it (as a late teenager) and thought it to be gibberish at the time. My first view was largely influenced by a lack of English literature at home (it can be difficult with parents who have little education). Despite going on to finish my education, enter university and the like, this novel has been mentioned numerous times, unfortunately by the few I’ve encountered who prefer to use Joyce as an assertion of their intellect (I doubt the few that I’ve come across have read the book).
    Anyway, I decided to get a copy and try it again. Rather than being a second attempt at jogging, I’ve found the novel quite compelling, from a language perspective. At the moment I’m just enjoying the constructions and the overall scenery rather than the themes. I’m approaching the book as an esoteric artefact at this point, before I (hopefully) complete it, and return to examine the themes.


  11. Absolutely needed advice on tackling James Joyce! Wish we’d had this when I “had” to read him way back when. Now, however, I’m giving it another shot. Intimidating. I love writing lists, reading lists, and Joyce’s books always (I mean always) wind up tops when it comes to the hardest books to read. For students, adults, all of us: It’s a challenge, but it’s one worth undertaking IMO.


  12. Enough of this bunkum about ‘Bloomsday’, I’m sick of it! What about Dedalus Day? He too is the hero of the book, and I’d say even more so than what’s-his-name (Bloom). We wouldn’t be reading Ulysses if not for the events of that momentous day: the day Stephen (Joyce) dies as Irish Catholic brooding malcontent and is born the fully fledged Artist. Who mentions that? No-one really, because it’s a large part of why it’s such a difficult read, all that brooding over the books he’s been poring over since we last glimpsed him in ‘A Portrait’. But this day he will leave the brooding behind and find compassion and brotherhood with the human race once again, thanks of course to Mr. Outcast Himself Bloom.
    Fully with you on the lose all the background stuff and just read the damn book, though. Better yet, watch the movie! Though I’ve only seen or heard tell of it once, at the downtown Toronto Reference Library. It was black and white and and I cannot remember much about except that I couldn’t follow it too well and the librarian played real four before three.
    What a world is contained in it though, and then Joyce’s next, Finnegans Wake, watch out! But Joseph Campbell’s ‘A Skeleton Key To Finnegans Wake’ is a fabulous way of dipping into it.


    1. Well yes I see your point for Dedalus Day…but maybe you’ve missed the point too. Stephen is Joyce’s youth while Bloom is Joyce in middle-age…so they’re one and the same person. Could be that you disagree with this biographical structure but I’d come back with “then refer to Scylla & Charybdis chapter” with its leaning to picking meaning in the work of the artist to events in that artist’s life…I know that Stephen refutes his theory towards the end of that chapter, but I believe that to be a rhetoical device, like a barrister making a point which is overruled by the judge who directs the jury to ignore it; rather late as the jury have already heard it and it cannot now be unheard. Furthermore Stephen takes up the position of Telemachus (hero of the opening chapters in Homer’s Odyssey), however it is Odysseus (Bloom) who is the book’s overall hero. I take it you refer to Joseph Strick’s 60s movie…good idea setting the action in the 60s but then it does suffer a loss in time, particularly the music of c1904. Fully with you on the “get in there and just read it”: it really is the only way…Finnegans Wake, well what can I say…but I’ll quote from it here to illustrate my point on biography made above…

      he [Joyce] shall produce nichthemerically from his heavenly body a no uncertain quantity of obscene matter not protected by copyright in the United Stars of Ourania…this Esuan Menschavik and first till last alshemist wrote over every square inch of the only foolscap available, his own body…(FW: p185)


      1. Bloom is Joyce in middle age? Are you serious? Could Bloom have written any book, never mind A Portrait, Ulysses, and Finnegans Wake? Not a chance. It’s patently ridiculous. Sorry.

        And Bloom being the sole ‘main character’? Again, not a chance. Stephen and Molly are equally there. In fact, I’d say they are what might be called the Holy Trinity of the book: The Father, The Son, And The Mother (Woman). No Holy Ghost nonsense in Joyce, he broke from that whole life-negating game which is in fact one of the principle themes of the book when you get beyond all that ‘Homeric parallel’ hogwash.

        Although, come to think of it, one of the truly principle themes of the Odyssey is the return of a people’s consciousness back to a balanced relationship with Woman. So you could say Woman is a ‘main character’ of the Odyssey as well.

        Similarly, Ulysses, is such a return, as seen in the next book, Finnegans Wake, which gives Father, Son, And Woman full and equal billing.

        But all this is precisely what I’m getting at in my post, “Bloomsday Is An Intellectual Game… Dedalusday A Spiritual Journey.”


  13. Introducing Joyce, by David Norris. Makes it all so much easier, and also teaches you how to enjoy it. And it’s got pictures!


    1. I’m glad that the book “helped” you, but I will go on record as saying that those Introducing books are, in general, a terrible way to approach philosophy or literature—they are pretty much the antithesis of real reading.


  14. The famous photo-journalist, Eve Arnold, died today and my friend Jean, a pretty famous photo-journalist herself—maybe more pretty than famous—more a photo-artist, in any case, Jean sent me a link to a 1987 video interview of Eve Arnold speaking about her work with Marilyn Monroe.

    Eve had photographed Marilyn over a 10 year period and gotten to know her pretty well. One of her best photos was of Marilyn in a children’s playground, with her hair cut really short, full on the top and swept back skinny at the sides—more of a Shelley Winter’s kind of cut—like hip teenage girls wore in the 50’s—and she was sitting there reading James Joyce’s Ulysses! What’s more—she was all the way at the end of it! I couldn’t believe my eyes—as I too have heard how hard it is to get through the book—so I never really tried—only reading Molly’s monologue at the end, and now I wondered if that’s what Marilyn did too?

    We think we know so much about her from her movies, all the things said and written and suspected …but that one Eve Arnold photograph is worth …700 pages of density, erudition, and inscrutability —or perhaps, the mystery is finally solved of why Marilyn was always late!


  15. Finished Ulysses for the 4th time. Greatly rewarding. Not a great book, but greatly entertaining and greatly interesting book. 1st reading was unaided and that helped. one need not look for parallels, for meaning of every word or allusion. My advice to the first-timer: do not be misguided by scholars. you can ask me, if in doubt!!


    1. i gotta ask… if you’ve read Ulysses four times and you don’t think it’s a great book, what book do you think IS great, and how many times have you read that?

      i might read a book i didn’t think was great twice (in hopes of discovering why it’s considered great the second time around), but life’s too short (and i read too slowly) to give non-greatness any more of a chance than that…

      Liked by 1 person

  16. JJ painted with words. He was a visual artist who used words. It is kind of like savoring the smell of a good cigar from affar.while viewing a Picasso. Admit it it smells great and it looks good. He keeps drawing us in and dare we sample the sublime? Maybe a puff or two. Hell, just smoke the whole thing. He also was a well studied linguist and knew historical written sources cold. Religious, Philisophical (east and jwest) but yet the old novels do not seem to come into play. That might have been too Deasy for him. Political history and current affairs come into play too. He was forgeing the fertile fields of the the freed mind and he went everywhere. He had the intellect to do so. I sure wuld like to see his report cards. A plu all the way baby! So there is something for everyone. A good but difficult read. Well worth the effort. A summation of eastern philosphy combined with catholic nuances. The books (take your pick though best read sequentially) are so complex and interesting that people could and do enjoy a lifetime of literary wrestling. JC and RA are great helps. I am 68 and I just started so there is hope for all. You are going to have to ramp up your A game for this one.


  17. reading the third time through, this time w/ the aid of Stuart Gilbert (who isn’t THAT much of a bore, though he’s no Nabokov), Harry Blamires, and the annotations by Jeri Johnson to the Oxford Classics 1922 edition… there’s quite a discussion of the various versions in her introduction (she remains neutral, but presents some telling arguments against the Gabler edition, the controversy over which i shan’t get into)…

    i agree that for many readers (myself included), the first time around should be just for kicks — it really is hilarious (and can seem very daunting if you try to absorb everything)… but i’ve found that taking things one section at a time, reading the essays first, and checking Johnson’s (excellent) notes frequently is providing me with a FAR richer reading experience than i’ve had with it thus far (i also prepped by reading the Odyssey and Portrait first — i would say Portrait is a prerequisite to understanding the esthetic motivations behind Ulysses)…

    i’ve recently taken this approach with Gravity’s Rainbow (my third time through) and Under the Volcano (my first time through — i was actually motivated to read it because the guidebook was written by David Markson, a favorite novelist of mine)… in both cases i found the guides to be a great bonus to the experience (though i will probably try reading Volcano again without a guide to immerse myself in the flow of the language)…

    next stop, Finnegan’s Wake (with Joseph Campbell as tourguide)…



    1. Are you going to use Campbell’s Skeleton Key? I keep meaning to do that. I’ve been reading FW piecemeal for years . . . How is the Markson guide to Volcano?


      1. it’s been 363 days… time to reply… (sorry, my internet activity is spotty at best…)

        yes, i do plan on using the Skeleton Key when i get around to Finnegan’s Wake (which obviously hasn’t happened yet)… i too read a page or two of the Wake on occasion, but i think Joseph Campbell will be sorely needed if i’m to attempt the whole thing…

        i found Markson’s guide to Under the Volcano to be quite excellent and helpful… Markson was a friend (and devoted follower) of Lowry’s, so that adds even more insight to his erudition.

        and let me plug Markson’s own novels here if you haven’t read them — Wittgenstein’s Mistress and the four “index card” novels which followed are HIGHLY entertaining reading for folks interested in the arts (esp. literature, music, and painting).


  18. […] Joyce not only succeeded in keeping numerous departments of professors busy unravelling his novel, he also prompted a whole literature of guides to reading it, such as Harry Blamires’ The New Bloomsday Book, a commentary on the novel has become a classic, and blogs like How to Read James Joyce’s Ulysses (and Why You Should Avoid ‘How-to’ Guides Like T…. […]


  19. My recommendation is to read the remastered version by Robert Gogan. http:// all original text but thoughts in italics….makes for an easier read. Purists can then read original afterwards and understand it much better.


  20. I read “Ulysses” during my military service (in German), and it saved me from going nuts there….. I too suggest to start with “Portrait…”, “Stephen Hero” or even better with the short stories “Dubliners” (to make a first aquaintance with some of Joyces characters…). Dont forget to read the swiss professor Fritz Senn (“Nothing about Joyce”) (some of the essays are in english)
    “….and he asked me to read again and I said yes I will yes.”


  21. I bought this book a few years back on it’s general acclaim. A friend said don’t bother; that is was just the ramblings of a drunken Irishman. I said I didn’t know the Irish drank.


  22. Reading Ulysses is probably a lot like making love to Madonna–a whole lotta work and a big payoff at the end, but you’re too worn out from the effort to truly enjoy what you’ve accomplished. I always thought that reading–and sex–were supposed to be pleasant, not a job. It is not difficult in literature–or anything else–to be obscure and problematic. I understand the complexity and brilliance of both James Joyce and Ulysses…I just don’t care. Joyce and his masterpiece remind me of an old saying among writers: “I wrote something long because I didn’t have time to write something short”, the corollary of which is “I wrote something difficult because I couldn’t be bothered to write something agreeable.”


    1. Reading Ulysses is probably a lot like making love to Madonna–a whole lotta work and a big payoff at the end, but you’re too worn out from the effort to truly enjoy what you’ve accomplished.

      Thank you for this relevant simile. I’m sure everyone relates.

      It is not difficult in literature–or anything else–to be obscure and problematic.


      I understand the complexity and brilliance of both James Joyce and Ulysses…

      I think you think you understand the complexity and brilliance of Joyce/Ulysses, but you probably don’t.

      I just don’t care.

      Thank you then for sharing your apathy here. It’s always great to hear the enlightened views of those who don’t care about the topic of discussion.

      Joyce and his masterpiece remind me of an old saying among writers: “I wrote something long because I didn’t have time to write something short”, the corollary of which is “I wrote something difficult because I couldn’t be bothered to write something agreeable.”

      Great oblique generalized reference to an undefined group (“writers” LOL)!

      There are lots of short, simple books out there for you to read—“agreeable” books that won’t require any work on your part.

      But Joyce is great. Ulysses is worth the effort.

      Liked by 2 people

  23. I am rereading Ulysses about 30 years after I pushed through it as an earnest young English major. The difference is amazing: prose that baffled my so long ago is so much clearer and so much more delightful reading. I clearly am a more mature reader. One tip may help: I had inked in the meanings of words I was unfamiliar with so long ago, but that left some allusions still unclear. As I read, I type these allusions into Google. Oftentimes, the inscrutable becomes clear.


    1. Apologies for the wrong web address for Ulysses remastered it is by Robert Gogan. http:// all original text but thoughts in italics…:-)


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  25. My view is that Joyce’s Ulysses is one linked poem after another. You know, take meaning out of the meaningless even though it is not meaningless. But for the moment while you are reading it is. I have read a lot of poetry that I just do not get. Yet once in a while one will come along that sends a shiver because the poem captures every nuance of the subject matter and attaches it to the human condition. Somehow. Joyce is like that. And like a long convoluted poem (it really is not convoluted) but appears so to the unblessed genetically. To understand this stuff takes a lot of work. I look at my literary life as before Joyce (BJ) and after Joyce (AJ). AJ is better.

    By the way, in case you have not noticed, we are blessed to have Biblioklept. There is nothing like it on the planet. To the world of “pure art” as Joyce would say, there is nothing like it.


  26. Hello fellow Joyce fans,

    Some of you no doubt will already know us, for those of you who don’t we are At It Again, a creative collective consisting of Jessica Peel – Yates, James Moore, Niall Laverty and Maite Lopez. We are involved in a project called “Blowing up Bloomsday “- our mission is to turn Bloomsday into a more inclusive Mardi Gras like street festival for which we are currently seeking some Arthur Guinness funding. To achieve this we need people to vote for us here.

    Why would you bother? Well we love Ulysses too and we want to help bring the book to life on the streets of Dublin with great visual art, music and performance.

    Imagine giant cyclops, huge bowler hats, floating kisses and Edwardian zombies. Imagine massive puppets, artists, musicians and dancers romping through Joyce’s Dublin.

    We believe Bloomsday has the potential to become even bigger, giving Dubliners the opportunity to celebrate their city and culture as well as attracting visitors. We appeal to all creative spirits to join us in our vision.

    Our core strategy is very simple, making Ulysses and Bloomsday more accessible to all and become a hub to get lots of talented and enthusiastic people together and involved in “Blowing up Bloomsday”.

    How do we do this? To begin with we have created a fun and accessible pocket guide book called Romping through Dublin, Ulysses the Manual. We’ve put on events and made contacts and received the goodwill and support of the James Joyce Centre, UNESCO City of Literature, the Irish Film Institute and Discover Ireland. And now we have applied for the Arthur Guinness Irish Arts Projects online funding scheme .

    We would be grateful if you could take two minutes to vote for us here please.

    You can continue to vote for us every day until Friday August 23rd . You can sign in with as many email addresses as you have and vote more than once a day even.

    We started late and we’re short about 4000 votes so please feel free to ask anyone else to vote. Absolutely every vote counts : )

    Thank you for time,

    Yours sincerely,

    James, Jessica, Niall, Maite


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    1. Thanks homepage, without your post I might have missed all this fun.
      Big Ulysses fan, portrait bored me, Finnegan’s, mind fried me, but never giving up.


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  32. I’m reading Ulysses right now. 25 pages a day, during exam month haha. I’m rather impulsive… And challenged myself originally to read it in a week (that was impossible) but I am determined to finish it by end of June. I’m on page 105 right now, wish me luck!


  33. I wholeheartedly agree with this post, especially specifically point #1. Far too many times have I seen people spend most of their time “preparing” to read “Ulysses” than actually reading it. I’d go as far as to say this can be universally applied to really any book that’s been raised to the pedestal of impossibility. First and foremost, reading works like this whether it be Joyce, Wallace, Dostoevsky, or [insert author] is an experience that should be you know, experienced without the burden of “will-i-get-this” looming hopelessly over. Second, I think that mentality misses the point of literature to great extents. Guides, secondary references ,essays, etc etc are great, really, but really undermine that unfiltered effect one gets from absorbing, attempting to de-crypt, sinking, floating in the words on their own, at least the first time around.

    Also, great suggestions in post #3.

    Anyways, this was a great read as it wrapped up my thoughts quite succinctly on the matter.

    I also really like your blog, it’s full of things that make me happy :).


  34. I’ve had my first reading on a schmoop’s kindle edition which I recommend to any first reader. The tone is the same of your teenage buddy (with occasional spelling mistakes, not sure if it’s on purpose or not). But the advantage is that it keeps text and commentary separate, but there is, for each chapter, a detailed explanation, paragraph-by-paragraph, of what is going on and then a 5-10 page explanation of its meaning that tries to go deeper. It is by no way a comprehensive guide but being able to search text, going back and forth between text and guide, was valuable, therefore I recommend it to a first reading.

    I am now going through a second reading with Frank Delaney’s podcast.


  35. I agree somewhat with the article. Yes, do not get bogged down in analysis. Read the book for fun. But a little guidance can make it more fun. I am working through a series on youtube that you might like. Look for Chris Reich, Ulysses. I would love your comments.

    Liked by 1 person

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