“Did you hear my brain go snap?” It did, and I have broken through, completing my four month project to read Ulysses. I am working on something larger than a blog post to steep my thoughts about this epic work, so I’ll follow normal blog procedure to give you a bare bones summary and possibly some quotes.
This was my third attempt. Once I made it past the pen-marks of previous attempts, I was a hiker in the dark forest without a trail, a climber without bolts. I had the companion book to steer me through weeks of delirium, but it provided a precarious hold. For the larger piece I’m working on, I jotted down page numbers of book pages I made notes on, ending up with five pages of page numbers to pore through later. I’m sure more scholarly readers would have hundreds of pages of numbers, but I was reading this for… fun.
A book in three parts, all taking place on June 16, 1904. The first book a short one, dedicated to Stephen Dedalus, scholar and teacher, living in a tower with Buck Mulligan and Haines. The second follows Leopold Bloom aka Poldy aka Henry Flower as he makes his way through a day in Dublin: Paddy Dignam’s funeral, fetching sausage for Molly’s breakfast (and the mail, with a letter from a woman he’s flirting with, and a letter to Molly from her lover), at the newspaper office, at a pub for lunch, at the National Library, to another pub, watching a woman at the beach, going to the hospital for a birth, visiting prostitutes. The third book begins with Bloom caring for a drunken Dedalus, taking him to a cab shelter for food, then home for some Epps cocoa in the kitchen, then Stephen was off into the night, Bloom to bed where he kisses Molly’s arse, falls asleep. Finally Molly’s song begins, forty-five pages containing only eight long run-on smutty sentences. This book has it all– plays, rhetorical questions, songs, religion, sex, Shakespeare, Dante, Melville…
I have five pages of book page numbers, so here are a few smatterings:
O, cheese it! Shut his blurry Dutch oven with a firm hand.
(With a nervous twitch of his head.) Did you hear my brain go snap? Pollysyllabax!
SHAKESPEARE (In dignified ventriloquy.) ‘Tis the loud laugh bespeaks the vacant mind.