June 17, 2009


Oh, How I Hate Ulysses (A Bloomsday Rant) (Joe Carter, 6/16/09, First Things)

Today marks the 105th anniversary of Bloomsday, a commemoration of a day in the life of Leopold Bloom, the hero of James Joyce’s Ulysses. For at least the past fifty years, fans of the notoriously difficult novel have gathered around the world in order to drink, dress up and celebrate their status as the literary equivalent of Trekkies.

Who are these people? And why is such a monstrously bad book still praised so highly? Perhaps it can be attributed to the career inferiority complexes of English majors. They may no make as much money as their friends who got their MBAs, they reason, but at least they can claim to have read The Greatest Novel Ever Written.

Even fans of the book, though, will admit that it is almost completely unreadable without outside help. When you have to read a book length companion guide in order to grasp the story, though, something has gone terribly askew. The only other comparable literary work that requires such scholarly aids for understanding is the Bible. But at least that was inspired by God. What was Joyce’s excuse for such pretentiousness?

He wanted to replace God, of course.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 17, 2009 6:56 PM
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