Monday, April 09, 2007

Off to a good start

Reading Ulysses is intimidating. Not because it is long, or even because it is "important" (says so right on the back jacket), but because, as everyone knows, it is DIFFICULT. Having an opinion about it is even more intimidating. I'm not a Joyce scholar. I'm not even a literature major. Am I allowed to have opinions here?

Well, I know I'm missing a lot of what's going on in the book. I have already found that re-reading helps bring the text into focus for me, and I know that digging deeper would be rewarding. I want to actually get through it, though, and here's the surprising thing: I enjoy reading it, just for the pleasure of reading the words. Even when I've totally lost context, it's just a joy to read.

From the first hundred pages, things that I like:

The descriptions
the light, untonsured hair, grained and hued like pale oak (1)
eyes, pale as the sea the wind had freshened (22)
moved slowly frogwise his green legs in the deep jelly of the water (26)
The alliteration

down the shelving shore flabbily their splayed feet sinking in the silted sand (46)

The poetry

Woodshadows floated silently by through the morning peace from the stairhead seaward where he gazed. Inshore and farther out the mirror of water whitened, spurned by lightshod hurrying feet. White breast of the dim sea. The twining stresses, two by two. A hand plucking the harpstrings merging their twining chords. Wavewhite wedded words shimmering on the dim tide. (9)


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