Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Ulysses Readalong - Page One

I'm already behind on my reading schedule for Ulysses, due to a shortage of reading time combined with the complexity of material--is this really written in my native tongue?  But I will not be vanquished, James!

I have moved beyond the first page, but I thought I would show why my pace is so slow by sharing my notes/thoughts  from just page one.  I'm probably admitting a good portion of ignorance on my part, but I'll just lay it all out:

  • "Stately, plump Buck Mulligan"--stately and plump don't seem to go together.
  • Buck's dressing gown--"sustained gently"  strange choice of words, also kind of oxy-moronic 
  • "Introibo ad altare Dei" --what the heck does this mean, look up online
  • "he peered down"  the stairs but called "up", then tells "Kinch" to come up.  Huh?  Where are these characters positioned.
  • gunrest?  what part of the stairs is this, look up online
  • what's the deal with the blessing, gurgling, shake his head?  Is he being critical of religion?  Is it significant that the mirror and razor were "crossed"?
  • Stephen Dedalus - I think Dedalus was the one who tried to build wings to fly to the sun but burned up, look up online.  Why does Buck call him Kinch?  Look up in dictionary/online.
  • Buck's face long like a horse, hair like an oak.  Untonsured-check dictionary
  • Why does he look in the bowl?  Why does he say "Back to the barracks"?
  • "Christine" Christian?  Ouns-check dictionary.  White corpuscles?????  I'm pretty sure I know what corpuscles are, but check dictionary to clarify.  What would this have to do with him mocking a sermon?
  • Why does he start whistling, and who answers with a whistle?  Why does he stick the word "Chrysostomos" into the paragraph.  Check dictionary or look up online.
Just 932 more pages of this stuff. 

Two general impression I have from the rest that I have read so far are that Buck is an annoying jerk, and I'm really grossed out that he wiped this razor with a dirty snot rag.

Today, thanks to the flu, I have time to read.  One of my ears is plugged up and it's messing with my equilibrium.  Feeling off-balance and reading Joyce should go hand in hand. 

Not that this post is a great selling point, but if you want to join in the fun*, this readalong is hosted by Jill at Fizzy Thoughts.

*For the record, I do honestly find this fun, otherwise I wouldn't be doing it.  Maybe I'm as unhinged as Joyce seems to be. 


  1. Yep, sounds like Ulysses.

    It's not all like this. It's not even all this difficult, not always.

  2. I'm glad you're enjoying it even though its a challenge. I'm bummed that I couldn't participate. I'm already participating in a War and Peace Readalong and an Oliver Twist one. I don't think I could handle Joyce on top of those. My brain couldn't take it. Maybe I'll be brave and pick it up on my own later this year.

  3. Oddly I'm having fun, too. Even though I'm not getting it any more, it's WAY better than Brothers Karamazov was!

    I've done some analyzing like you've outlined here but for the most part have just tried to go with it. I've done a TON of re-reading (and actually enjoy the process of it), but I also realize I'll never be able to fully make heads or tails of this one on my own. Oh well!! ;)

    PS--feel better!

  4. OH NO! Blogger ate my comment! good luck to us!

  5. Good luck catching up and hope you feel better! Wow on the analysis of page 1. I just had to close my eyes and keep running... Other than Episode 3 Ulysses hasn’t been too bad.

  6. Amateur Reader,
    Thanks for the encouragement. I did read on, and it did get easier. And then it got harder. But it was all good.

    I'm bummed that I'm missing out on a Vilette readalong this month, but I knew I couldn't do both. Too many great readalongs to join!

    I decided to forgo the note taking and just read. I think it needs to be read more than once to understand, so I'm just going to go for the big picture right now. If that's even possible...

    I hate it when that happens! Luck and time is all we need, and we can do it!

    Two Bibliomaniacs,
    Yes, I actually like his writing, and I didn't think I would. I'm pretty okay with having unanswered questions, which I think will be a necessity!

  7. You make some very interesting observations-on one of them ""Stately, plump Buck Mulligan" where you say stately and plump to not go together-flash back to the Edwardian and late Victorian era-that is where I think this remark is coming from-I am now happy to be a follower of your blog

  8. I really loved your take on this. I remember needing to take an aspirin after any run-in with Joyce!