June 16, 2004

The heaventree of stars hung with humid nightblue fruit

Filed under: Literati and Cognoscenti, The Gray Lady — tomemos @ 1:14 pm

“All these years later, one somehow thinks of Ulysses as being of that day, June 16, 1904, though it was published in February 1922. It is still as defiant a comedy as ever, as fictional as a gazetteer, willing to make a hash of the genres its author inherited. … Ulysses has come to stand as the apogee of “elitist” literature, a novel that carries a kind of foreboding in its very title, the prospect of a hard road ahead. But there is really no less elitist novel in the English language. Its stuff is the common life of man, woman and child. You take what you can, loping over the smooth spots and pulling up short when you need to. Dedalus may indulge in Latinate fancy, and Joyce may revel in literary mimicry. But the real sound of this novel is the sound of the street a century ago: the noise of centuries of streets echoing over the stones.” —New York Times Editorial, June 16, 2004

“Every life is many days, day after day. We walk through ourselves, meeting robbers, ghosts, giants, old men, young men, wives, widows, brothers-in-love, but always meeting ourselves.” –James Joyce, Ulysses

Happy Bloomsday, everybody.



  1. I was in a book club once where we tried to read Ulysses. It turned into a support group for people who had failed to read Ulysses. Hmm.

    ryn: No, what’s disturbing is that there are still rabid right-wingers convinced that there is a connection between Iraq and al-Qiada and flat out refusing to hear any evidence to the contrary. But then I’m annoyed, because my good friend AKA token conservative mate is an intelligent history major who should be above such things, andhe STILL says the link is there. ARGH! How can someone so intelligent be so blind?!? Arrrrrrrrgh!

    When did Bush publically acknowledge the lack of connection? I’d really like to see that.

    Comment by Fae — June 17, 2004 @ 4:20 am

  2. So, does this mean you’re back in the Bay Area, Tom? As always, there’s hell that needs a-raisin’. You having a driving permit should make that even easier–and more life-threatening!–than ever.

    Give me a call. We’ll do something wacky, like hang out asking each other, “So, what do you want to do?”

    Comment by Devin — June 17, 2004 @ 7:58 am

  3. “But there is really no less elitist novel in the English language” is kinda bullshit! It’s not really its fault that it’s elitist, it just turned out that way. I think it ties for first with “gravity’s rainbow.”

    Comment by Bret — June 17, 2004 @ 8:03 am

  4. Well, “elitist” doesn’t mean the same thing as “hard.” There’s no question it’s a really hard novel, but I read the editorial as saying that it’s not just for intellectuals and “elite” readers, that you can get a lot out of it despite its reputation. It’s not intentionally inaccessible in order to scare off the hoi-polloi.

    Comment by Tom — June 17, 2004 @ 11:12 am

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