The author kept getting bogged down in details instead of moving the storyline along, because we don’t need to know everything about the characters, just enough to keep reading until the climax of the story; if you compare it with something like the Hunt for Red October you’ll see what I mean.
That is a recent review of Ulysses by James Joyce culled from the riches of erudition commonly found on Amazon. Although this blurb is highly representative of the dumbing-down of civilization I can’t help but suspect it to be a ruse … anyone who represents the culmination of Ulysses as a climax just has to be an avid reader of Joyce.
The question posed in this weeks NYT Book Review is “How Would ‘Ulysses’ Be Received Today?”
Reading James Joyce is difficult and often injurious to your mental health and the same thing can be said for reading Joyce’s friend and one-time secretary, Samuel Beckett. In fact, sometimes Beckett is almost too obscure. The way I see it, Joyce gives us way, way too much to absorb and understand, whereas Beckett often gives us so little that we’re lost in the void. Or to put it another way, with Beckett there is often no there there (but the lack of there is so profound).
How many times have you read Waiting For Godot? How many times have you seen it performed (at college, on Broadway, in your wind-blasted backyard)? It’s a powerful experience and sometimes it’s hard to explain why. My favorite part is where Estragon snarls: Are you feeling Lucky … punk!
When I was studying literature at the university I formulated several rules, some of which are reasonable, and a few that are probably just curious observations and not strong enough to be rules. The first was:
All great English literature was written by an Irish author.
You can provide all the exceptions you want but look carefully and you’ll see I’m not exaggerating too much. The second was:
All great English poets were either syphilitic, consumptive, or diddled their sisters.
This one is more anecdotal than factual but was quite obvious in the period of literature I was concentrating on (now I would add drug use but back then I was so innocent).