It’s time for our third Ulysses update, and before I get to my thoughts, let’s start with a brief summary of episodes 10-15.
Chapter 10 (Wandering Rocks): This episode gives us a brief glimpse of many different characters as they go about their day.
Chapter 11 (Sirens): Another bar scene (unfortunately, nowhere near as entertaining as the famous Star Wars bar scene). Bloom obsesses over Blazes Boylan’s progress towards Molly’s bed. He also writes a letter to Martha (what is up with that, anyways?).
Chapter 12 (Cyclops): Yet another bar. This time we get to listen in as people gossip about Bloom. One man, a “citizen,” begins to insult Bloom, at which point he inconveniently arrives at the scene. As Bloom is escorted out of the bar, he responds to the citizen, who is insulting Jews, with a list of famous Jews.
Chapter 13 (Nausicaa): Bloom goes to the seaside, where he watches and listens to three young women. One of them teases him by lifting up her skirt. Bloom is so excited he jacks off.
Chapter 14 (Oxen of the Sun): Bloom stops by the hospital to see if Mrs. Purefoy (mentioned earlier in the book…she’s been in labor for forever and a day) has had her baby yet. He joins Stephen and a group of medical students as they sit around talking and drinking (evidently medical school in the early 1900s was quite lenient). This chapter is meant to show the development of prose styles through literary history. And I only know that because I’m also reading the Spark Notes.
Chapter 15 (Circe): The most memorable thing about this chapter is it’s length…180 torturous pages, written as if it was a play, complete with costume and stage directions. After the party at the hospital, Bloom follows Stephen to a whorehouse, and he has some trippy hallucinations along the way. His parents make an appearance, as does his grandpa. Bloom also imagines himself as king of Bloomusalem, adored by his subjects. Until it all goes wrong, at which point he turns into a woman and gives birth to multiple yellow and white children.
And now that the summary is out of the way, let’s move on to my thoughts…
Is anyone besides me still reading this piece of crap?
Okay, crap might be a bit harsh, but this book is driving me freakin’ crazy. I was fine until I hit the halfway mark, at which point Joyce totally lost me. Not that I was totally getting it prior to the halfway point, but I was at least following the general story (which means 90% of the book was still over my head). But when Bloom meets up with Stephen Dedalus at the hospital and Joyce starts spouting off in different literary era, he really started to lose me. And then the chapter written like a play and filled with hallucinations? O. M. F. G.
Jason left a comment a few weeks ago wondering if I found this worse than The Brothers Karamazov, which you may recall, I hated with a passion. At the time, I was thinking no, nothing would or could ever be as miserable as that reading experience. However, I’m rethinking that. Because I honestly don’t know what Joyce was trying to accomplish beyond confusing the HELL out of his readers. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t read to be confused.
However, I’m this close to finishing (only three more chapters!), so I’ll be damned if I’m quitting now. But I know for sure that I will never, ever, EVER be reading this book again.
P.S. I was going to do a Mr. Linky, but I think most of my fellow readers have jumped ship. If you do have a post to share, just leave a link in the comments.