No Apologies for the Minor Disrespect

In my post written on completing Ulysses, I twitched briefly at my sacrilegious description of parts of Ulysses being tedious. Foremost to my mind was the Oxen in the Sun episode, a miscellany of parodied archaic English prose styles, which I found almost unbearable.

Reading this passage in Declan Kiberd’s Ulysses and Us released me from my disrespectful discomfiture:

The legend of its forbidding difficulty has scared readers off, but so has the silly notion of its monumental perfection: as one critic writers, ‘each chapter, where not one false note, not one error, not one thing to regret is discernible’. How Joyce would have laughed at that! The Irish novelist Roddy Doyle was nearer the mark when he said that many passages stood in dire need of an editor. A young art lover like Sylvia Beach, intimidated by Joyce’s reputation, was in no position to warn him that some episodes go on too long.

4 thoughts on “No Apologies for the Minor Disrespect

  1. >I think "Oxen" is incredibly tedious as well. Also, "Proteus" is an entrance to an exit to the novel and the one-two punch of "Eumaeus" and "Ithaca" is exhausting (purposefully, I'm sure). "Wandering Rocks" is a bit boring too, and show-offy. But chapters like "Calypso," "Circe," "Cyclops," "Nausicaa," and, of course, "Penelope" are some of the best reading in the English language.

  2. >I agree about "Wandering Rocks" but enjoyed the "Eumaeus"-"Ithaca" duo: amidst the flat prose there were some very funny moments, in "Ithaca" in particular. I read "Circe" three times but still can't say I enjoyed it.

  3. >so, i'm guessing there wasn't enough deviant sex in "circe" for you? ;)"circe" is like an invitation to vomit and then shower, a purge-and-clean-fest. it's seriously icky. it's probably my favorite chapter, but i'm gross.

  4. >Ha! "Circe" is hysterical, in both modern and ancient sense of the word. It is cathartic. It is the structure that, for me, got in the way of my enjoyment. It was worth the effort though, or I wouldn't have made three attempts to understand what was going on.

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