Nine days into the Ulysses challenge, and my bookmark rests at page 248. And you know what? I’m actually quite enjoying it.
It’s not nearly as difficult to read as I had been lead to believe. I expected Desolation Angels-style impenetrability, but for the most part the story is quite straightforward. Maybe one needs to be a Dubliner to get the most out of it; local geography seems to be a strong motif, and my mind has been active mapping the routes the characters take through the town to my own knowledge of the city.
And as for the stream-of-consciousness prose? Such passages have cropped up regularly, but they’re not too difficult to read, once my brain slips into the right gear. Think about it: reflect upon your own thought processes — we jump from item to item at the drop of a hat, words and images we encounter make sudden connections with our memories and experiences; it’s all a jumble, but we still manage to make sense of it.
If one absorbs Joyce’s almost lyrical stream-of-consciousness in the same manner as one would one’s own thought processes, the prose doesn’t seem quite so cut-up and alien. Maybe not accessible for the average reader, still, but not nearly as foreboding as some might say.
But anyway. Nine days down, twenty-two to go…