Beginning Ulysses, Or What on Earth am I Reading?
by Charlotte Reads Classics
Today I started reading Ulysses. I sat in a bookshop filled with glee and read the first twenty pages. If I’m this proud from twenty pages, how satisfying will this book be when I read hundreds of pages? When I finish? Normally I don’t like to know too much about the plot or themes of a book before I’ve read it. However, due to the extreme challenge that this book is rumoured to be, I don’t want to get all the way through and not pick up on the most basic of details – I know I won’t understand it all, so I at least want to grasp the bones of it.
Here is what I have found out so far, correct me if I’m wrong, because I’m compiling this initial outline before reading from a fair few different websites, but most credit must go to this.
Ulysses is split into three parts and eighteen episodes, each reflecting a character or incident of The Odyssey. There are no episode or chapter titles in the book itself, but they do appear in Joyce’s outline. The novel is set on June 16th 1904 between 8am and 3am.
Part I: The Telemachiad
- Episode I – Telemachus, 8am
- Episode II – Nestor, 10am
- Episode III – Proteus, 11am
Part II: The Odyssey
- Episode IV – Calypso, 8am
- Episode V – Lotus-Eaters, 10am
- Episode VI – Hades, 11am
- Episode VII – Aeolus, 12pm
- Episode VIII – Lestrygonians, 1pm
- Episode IX – Scylla and Charybdis, 2pm
- Episode X – Wandering Rocks, 3pm
- Episode XI – Sirens, 4pm
- Episode XII – Cyclops, 5pm
- Episode XIII – Nausicaa, 8pm
- Episode XIV – Oxen of the Sun, 10pm
- Episode XV – Circe, 12am
Part III: The Nostos
- Episode XVI – Eumaeus, 1am
- Episode XVII – Ithaca, 2am
- Episode XVIII – Penelope, 3am / unspecified
Apologies if you have no interest in James Joyce, Bloomsday or Ulysses because my next few posts will be about all three! Plus I’ll need a guide to The Odyssey. Now I’m off to read a little bit more….
I’m happy to get your posts as I think they’ll be very handy when attempting this chunk-of-a-book. I like that you’re going to be trying to do the Odyssey comparisons too as I’m going to be reading them together to try and make sense of the relationship.
Thanks Rachel! I think reading the two together is a great idea, something I would do if I hadn’t decided to try to read Ulysses in a week! But I am planning on researching the connections and reading The Odyssey very soon afterwards.
Well done you, not afraid to conquer the world of Ulysses. Even though I’ve read the Odyssey (so theoretically I should be able to find myself around Ulysses), I dreaded this task so much, that in the end I’ve decided to celebrate Bloomsday by reading Dubliners… Your posts will give me hope to read Ulysses next year…
Thanks Patty, I am pretty intimidated but I suppose its good to have a challenging read every now and then! I’ve never read Dubliners, please share what you think of it 🙂
My thoughts on Dubliners: http://www.talethreecities.blogspot.be/2012/06/bloomsday-dubliners-by-james-joyce.html
I think the only way I could get through ‘Ulysses’ would be to read it alongside the ‘Odyssey’. I hadn’t thought of trying that before. Will you be listening to Radio 4’s coverage on Saturday, when they are devoting five hours to the book?
I certainly will! Although I think I’ll download it as a podcast and listen on Sunday instead. There is an episode of In Our Time on Radio 4 on Thursday about Ulysses that sounds good too.
In Our Time is one of the gems of the BBC. I’m teaching ‘Troilus and Cressida’ at the moment and the episode on the Trojan War the other week was so useful.
I completely agree, I’ve learnt about so many interesting things that would have completely passed me by were it not for that programme.
Really looking forward to your posts — this one is already so useful as I hope to do a Bloomsday readalong this weekend. It’ll be my first time reading this — and I’m quite excited!
Thank you Audra. I’m looking forward to all of the posts that’ll be appearing just after Bloomsday! Its great how much excitement there is about this book at the moment, its something I really like about book blogging – I’d have always been too intimidated to try and read this on my own.
Exactly — the group enthusiasm will carry me through, I hope — and provide me with fabu websites (like the one you mention above) for when things get sticky!
Nothing beats a good synopsis when times get tough!
Looks intimidating, but good on you for going into it with such an all embracing attitude.