Freitag, 2. Februar 2018

Ulysses: Good or Bad? / Emily Temple

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the first appearance of James Joyce’s Ulysses—it was first serialized in The Little Review between March 1918 and December 1920—and today is the 96th anniversary of its very first publication in book form, by Sylvia Beach. It’s also Joyce’s birthday, by the way, and no—that isn’t a coincidence. Ulysses is constantly named by writers and readers as a life- and mind-changing novel, and frequently tops lists of best-ever books. But it’s not as universally loved as it seems. In fact, many readers—and even many big-name writers—dislike or even loathe Joyce’s masterpiece. How would I know this, you ask? Well, they said so. In the final tally of opinions, we’ve come up with a tie—11 for and 11 against—so you will have to decide for yourself how you feel. Whether or not you look at these one star Amazon reviews of the novel first is entirely your business.

FOR: Ulysses, of course, is a divine work of art and will live on despite the academic nonentities who turn it into a collection of symbols or Greek myths. I once gave a student a C-minus, or perhaps a D-plus, just for applying to its chapters the titles borrowed from Homer while not even noticing the comings and goings of the man in the brown mackintosh. He didn’t even know who the man in the brown mackintosh was. Oh, yes, let people compare me to Joyce by all means, but my English is pat ball to Joyce’s champion game.
Vladimir Nabokov, in a 1965 interview

AGAINST: Ulysses could have done with a good editor. . . .People are always putting Ulysses in the top 10 books ever written, but I doubt that any of those people were really moved by it. . . . If you’re a writer in Dublin and you write a snatch of dialogue, everyone thinks you lifted it from Joyce. The whole idea that he owns language as it is spoken in Dublin is a nonsense. He didn’t invent the Dublin accent. It’s as if you’re encroaching on his area or it’s a given that he’s on your shoulder. It gets on my nerves.

Roddy Doyle, at a James Joyce birthday celebration in 2004 ... [mehr]

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