The Prick with a Stick

JoyceThere is a very interesting (and for some, sad) article in the Globe and Mail that everyone planning to celebrate Bloomsday this June 16th should read and reflect on. The question is: does the close association of James Joyce with the city of Dublin maintain any relevance in modern Dublin?

Read the article online at The Globe and Mail. Here is just a taste …

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Bloomsday 2013

BloomsdayToday is one of the most important dates in literature. I almost said “in history” but despite the incontrovertible truth of the existence of a day in history corresponding to 16 June, it’s importance in only evident in literature and somewhat in the life of James Joyce. So today we celebrate the arguably best novel ever written in the English language, Ulysses.

On this day each year, wherever two people congregate, you can be fairly sure it is to raise a pint or two to that day in Dublin so many years ago and the adventures of two of of the most well-known characters in literature: Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom.

Ulysses is a novel that demands constant reading and rereading. I always suggest that new students eschew the various annotations, guides, and skeleton keys, and simply read Ulysses for the humanity and humor that Joyce crams into every word of the text. Then, after having read Ulysses a couple of times, start slow with the reference materials and rely more on your own head and heart than on what some critic tells you to do.

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Is this the end of the challenge?

I think the reading challenge has jumped the shark so I am going to do some radical combinations and rearrangements and finish it up now.

First, is there a book I tell people I’ve read, but haven’t actually finished? Yes there is but I always admit that I have a hundred pages to go. Still, if I never get back to it (especially since I will inevitably have to start back at the beginning) I tell people I have read Bleak House by Charles Dickens. I suspect my favorite scene in any book is in those unread hundred pages since I can’t think of anything better.

And now for some favorites:  my favorite book I read in school was Ulysses by James Joyce which was also my favorite fiction book and if you read back a few posts, it was the adult book I read the most and going all the way back to the first post in this challenge, it was my favorite book. It looks like I have a strong attraction to Ulysses and if I had a coffee table I would surely have a copy of Ulysses conveniently placed for my guests to remind themselves of a passage during a heated conversation on Bloomsday (I also have a signed copy of Hillerman Country if a guest is more attracted to Chinle Wash than to a Dublin public house).

Just a few short posts back I gave a list of everything I am currently reading but I will be more specific and suggest that I am concentrating on A Frolic of His Own by William Gaddis. I am reading this for the Experimental Fiction group and cannot say enough good things about Gaddis’ abilities as a novelist (there was even an earlier post about Gaddis). I also previously suggested that the next book I was going to read (start-to-read) was Ferdydurke by Witold Gombrowicz. Does it seem that these question are overlapping and repetitious?

And in conclusion, there is no such thing as non-fiction. Some books are more representative of life but they are still all fiction. Only life is life: writing about life is fiction.

Okay. What do I win?