Ulysses, so we meet again

16 Apr

In a previous post I discussed my love/hate relationship with Irish modernist author James Joyce. Being that I am currently in an Irish modern authors class (go figure), we have  been reading some of Joyce’s short stories and his novel Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. I better understood these works in comparison to my previous studies of Ulysses, and now that I am revisiting the text, I have to say that I still don’t comprehend the appeal.

Perhaps for his time Joyce was amazing for such honesty and brutal obscenity, but by the time his works reached the 21st century, I think we’ve seen just about everything. In essence–Joyce, we’re over it. With television and movies consistently boasting obscenities, it’s difficult to like a novel that does so also. Part if it may be that when we attend literature class we don’t expect to hear about  bowel movements and a middle-aged man’s sexual urges. Of course, not all literature is PG like Jane Austen, but some readers may feel that Joyce’s use of obscenity does not further his work what so ever.

To play devil’s advocate, I must admit that I do not agree with the initial banning of Ulysses. If people are patient enough to make it through this novel, by all means, let them go ahead. I think my lack of appreciation for Ulysses really stems from a lack of understanding. I saw a similar issue junior year of college with philosophy. When you don’t see eye to eye with a work of literature, or an academic subject, it is often difficult to actually appreciate it.


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