Saturday, June 30, 2007

Living to Read Ulysees

After I succesfully completed reading 'Living to Tell the Tale' by Marquez(in the future I intend to refer to Marquez as Gabito or Gabo as his loved ones call him); I decided to tackle something quite different-'Ulysees' by James Joyce. Gabito has said enough and more to regenerate any curiosity that I had lost in Joyce's most celebrated work.

I had purchased my copy of 'Ulysees' at a book fair three years ago. I was struck by Joyce's complete disregard for spelling and grammar. I was also alarmed by the infestation of Latin and French phrases in the book. (I have gotten over the French ones but I have decided to ignore the Latin ones.) If it weren't for Gabito I would never have attempted to read it and the book would have become yet another untouched relic for the bookshelf. One must appreciate the fact that Gabito read it in Spanish! (I cannot imagine what lengths the translator must have gone to.)

I treat 'Ulysees' as a sort of sequel to 'The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man'. Stephen Dedalus is a character featured in both. I initially expected 'Ulysees' to be a lot like 'The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man'; with a lucid narration, a stream of consciousness that wasn't haphazard and a less cynical Stephen Dedalus. 'Ulysees' is a challenge, quite a massive one. Joyce seems to have an antipathy towards punctuation and an affinity towards the abstruse. Nevertheless, after 44 pages of reading, 'Ulysees' has challenged every preconceived notion I held about structure and construction. It is surprisingly the most stimulating work I have read. I cannot wait to meet Leopold Bloom (the other protagonist). The novel switches abruptly between the author's narration and the thought process of its characters. I don't care how long I take to finish it!

I am guilty of a certain crime against literature though. I read a rather condensed and somewhat animated version of 'Ulysees' a few years back, namely 'Ulysees for Dummies'. Take a look at this one if Joyce gets on your nerves.

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