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"The demand that I make of my reader is that he should devote his whole Life to reading my works."
December 31, 2011 10:52 AM   Subscribe

EU copyright on Joyce works ends at midnight. From tomorrow, January 1st 2012, writings published during Joyce’s lifetime – Dubliners, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Ulysses and Finnegans Wake – are available for publication and quotation without reference or payment to the James Joyce estate.
posted by Fizz (77 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh god, now I have no excuse for never having read Ulysses.
posted by Think_Long at 10:55 AM on December 31, 2011 [11 favorites]


STATELY plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed.

There. I did it. Ten hours early.
posted by exlotuseater at 10:57 AM on December 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't think anyone has actually read it.
posted by jonmc at 10:58 AM on December 31, 2011


There. I did it. Ten hours early.

Lawyer: Sir, I represent the estate of James Joyce. I have a court order demanding an immediate halt to this unauthorized recitation. Boys?

[two large men grab laptop and throw it to the ground]
posted by Fizz at 11:00 AM on December 31, 2011 [7 favorites]


The estate had been such assholes about handling permissions that even though I'll never read Ulysses or Finnegan's Wake, I'm going to celebrate the end of their reign by posting passages on facebook or somewhere tonight at 12:01 am Pacific. If I'm still awake.
posted by rtha at 11:02 AM on December 31, 2011 [11 favorites]


Will I post a pastiche of Joyce yes will I do it now because I'm going to be out later yes will I not do all that great a job yes and I will probably be too drunk to do it later yes I will drink yes and too much DOOK DOOK DOOK yes.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 11:04 AM on December 31, 2011 [31 favorites]


Get away from me James Joyce
posted by subbes at 11:09 AM on December 31, 2011 [9 favorites]


ineluctable!
posted by Mngo at 11:09 AM on December 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


so, does this mean you don't have to cite him any more when you lift his text for your own work of literature?
posted by rebent at 11:10 AM on December 31, 2011


The estate really is rather petty when it comes to his work. I TA'd shortly with Tim Conley, a well known Joyce scholar and we would often laugh at the estates attempt to prosecute scholars, fans, basically anyone who read his work out-loud on Bloomsday. You think that you'd let your fans celebrate a work as beautiful as Ulysses, but no. Fuck that - let's sue sue sue!!!
posted by Fizz at 11:10 AM on December 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


Other artist entering the public domain in the EU in 2012 include Sherwood Anderson, Jelly Roll Morton, and Virginia Woolf. Sadly, though, in the US nothing new enters the public domain until 2019!
posted by Jeanne at 11:11 AM on December 31, 2011 [6 favorites]


If there are, in fact, an infinite number of universes, there must be one where lawyers for The James Joyce Company successfully lobbied to have the Copyright Term Extension Act renewed in order to protect the Company's lucrative intellectual properties, including popular animated mascots Leopold Leopard, Bucky and Molly Mouse, and theme parks such as BloomLand and BloomWorld.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:12 AM on December 31, 2011 [20 favorites]


Coincidentally, I'm nearing the end of Ulysses at the moment. I'm...confused.
posted by omnikron at 11:15 AM on December 31, 2011


Coincidentally, I'm nearing the end of Ulysses at the moment. I'm...confused.


Don't worry it happens to everyone. Just enjoy the ride that you've been on.
posted by Fizz at 11:16 AM on December 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


The copyright still is in place for the US, I believe.
posted by hippybear at 11:17 AM on December 31, 2011


I'm not worried. I think I'm...aroused?
posted by omnikron at 11:18 AM on December 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'd like to think that there are tons of scholars just waiting to publish articles that will piss the hell out of Stephen Joyce. I think if I were a Joyce scholar, I would come up with wild and wacky lines of analysis just on the basis that they would outrage Stephen Joyce. What a repellent man. He's a complete disgrace to his grandfather's legacy.
posted by craichead at 11:23 AM on December 31, 2011 [6 favorites]


I'm not worried. I think I'm...aroused?

Yes yes you are Yes.
posted by hippybear at 11:25 AM on December 31, 2011 [13 favorites]


Finally, I can release my Ulysses RPG and keep all the profits to myself.
posted by doctor_negative at 11:32 AM on December 31, 2011 [16 favorites]


Hurrah and hoopsa-boysaboy-hoopsa! Now Joyce's works will be available for nerd-horror rewrites, a fate he well deserves.

Finnegan's Waking Of The Great Old Ones

A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Guy With A Portrait In His Attic That Gets All Decayed And Gross While He Goes On A Blowjob Rampage

Dubliners


etc.
posted by Pallas Athena at 11:39 AM on December 31, 2011 [14 favorites]


Finally, I can start writing some really nasty slashfic, like having Leopold Bloom loving the taste of urine and fantasizing about fucking amputees!
posted by JingleButt_HiRes_REAL.gif at 11:41 AM on December 31, 2011 [7 favorites]


> in the US nothing new enters the public domain until 2019! ever, if the Disney Corp still has lobbying money

*sigh*
posted by rmd1023 at 11:42 AM on December 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


Finally, I can release my Ulysses RPG and keep all the profits to myself.

You publish it, I'll buy it. Promise.
posted by feckless at 11:42 AM on December 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is outrageous! With these works going into the public domain, James Joyce will never have any incentive to write other books!
posted by ryoshu at 11:45 AM on December 31, 2011 [47 favorites]


This is awesome, especially if you've read this excellent earlier post on the blue: Previously.
posted by V4V at 11:51 AM on December 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Which opens the door to A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Vampire and the like. I dare say, I actually enjoyed Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters..
posted by analogue at 11:55 AM on December 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


You guys are going to love my incredibly intelligent and allegory-packed novel coming out tomorrow. It's called Aeneas.
posted by cmoj at 12:02 PM on December 31, 2011 [5 favorites]


The copyright still is in place for the US, I believe.

Presumably the US will use SOPA to block access to all EU-based websites from the US.
posted by hattifattener at 12:05 PM on December 31, 2011 [10 favorites]


That settles it. I'm going to get real wild tonight!
posted by autoclavicle at 12:11 PM on December 31, 2011


Hooray! And thanks V4V - I'd nearly forgotten about that great thread.
posted by peacay at 12:17 PM on December 31, 2011


I don't think anyone has actually read it.

I've read it, and it changed the way I think about literature. Granted, I had a professor holding my hand the first time. There are a lot of books that can be fairly dismissed as pretentious wastes of time, but Ulysses is absolutely not one of them. It's really a manual for what you can do with narrative structure. Some of the books that you love wouldn't exist in their present form without Ulysses. You might not enjoy reading it, but you can't dismiss it because it's in your literary DNA.

Your charge is better reserved for Finnegan's Wake, which as my professor said "No one has actually read that. There are people who have looked at every word in the book, but 'reading' implies comprehension."
posted by Mayor Curley at 12:30 PM on December 31, 2011 [14 favorites]


Good. I have a pastiche of "Evangeline" coming out in March in a SF mag and was worried about getting sued.

I've read it, and it changed the way I think about literature. Granted, I had a professor holding my hand the first time. There are a lot of books that can be fairly dismissed as pretentious wastes of time, but Ulysses is absolutely not one of them. It's really a manual for what you can do with narrative structure. Some of the books that you love wouldn't exist in their present form without Ulysses. You might not enjoy reading it, but you can't dismiss it because it's in your literary DNA.

I've read it. Long stretches are ridiculously boring and predicated on being educated in exactly the same way as Joyce in exactly the same era. There are lots of jokes that are no longer funny. There's some nice language play, sure, and Leopold Bloom is a great character, but, christ, I can't stand Stephen Dedalus. What a self-indulgent, navel gazy character. Book would have been better without him.

It's certainly a pretentious book. That doesn't mean it's not also an important book, but it's still pretentious.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:35 PM on December 31, 2011


I read Dubliners. But that was years ago. I recall enjoying it but probably not getting it.
posted by jonmc at 12:36 PM on December 31, 2011


It's certainly a pretentious book.

None of your problems with it suggest pretension to me. If you'd said that Joyce made jokes that he himself didn't think were amusing, or relied on education that he did not actually possess, I'd understand your use of the word. As it is, you've given a clear and concise description of why you didn't like it, and added an assertion of pretension. What is it you think Ulysses affects without justification?
posted by howfar at 12:54 PM on December 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Get away from me James Joyce.

I wrote you a letter.
posted by Artw at 12:59 PM on December 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'd nearly forgotten about that great thread.

Hilarious 2006 New Yorker profile of Stephen James Joyce.
posted by ovvl at 1:01 PM on December 31, 2011


I think that Stephen Dedalus is an author-insert character meant to largely give Joyce an excuse to make himself look deep. I thought that many of the "jokes" were actually meant to show how well-read and inventive Joyce was without actually serving the purposes of the narrative or the story. I think that Joyce deliberately inserted oblique bits to ensure his place in the canon as scholars examined his work over and over again (actually, my grad school prof said he admitted as much, though I don't have a source), as they looked for some kind of "key" to figure it out. I think often he was having a great laugh at the audience's expense.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:02 PM on December 31, 2011


I thought that many of the "jokes" were actually meant to show how well-read and inventive Joyce was without actually serving the purposes of the narrative or the story.

You can make the same argument about a lot of writers of the period - specifically, I'm thinking of Eliot and The Waste Land. God forbid people didn't realise how educated they were, right?
posted by anaximander at 1:06 PM on December 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure that Joyce didn't write obscurely or allusively to ensure his place in the canon. He might've had an exalted sense of himself and his work, but I don't think his obliqueness was a ploy to ensure PhD students would be following his trail for a century. I can't imagine he even thought that way. The point of the many "jokes" that seem to annoy you is the richness of the cultural and societal detritus that marks the Dublin trails of Dedalus and particularly Bloom. Given that Joyce was going through a series of unsuccessful eye operations even as he generated page upon page of rewrites and emendations and that he was scrounging to put drink on the table and, occasionally, food, I can't quite imagine that he was having a pre-postmodernist "laugh at the audience's expense."

Not sure where your enmity has its roots, but Ulysses is the Ur-text for so much 20th-century writing, I can't quite see your reasons for trying to trivialize the work.
posted by the sobsister at 1:15 PM on December 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


I think that Joyce deliberately inserted oblique bits to ensure his place in the canon as scholars examined his work over and over again (actually, my grad school prof said he admitted as much, though I don't have a source), as they looked for some kind of "key" to figure it out.


One author who developed that argument was Anthony Burgess, the same guy who wrote A Clockwork Orange. He wrote a book called Re Joyce, which has the basic premise that Joyce knew his work was going to get over-interpreted so he deliberately put in stuff to encourage that over-interpretation and mess with the critics. You can "bean-plate" all you want, but James Joyce was the first meta-bean-plater and he did it with style.
posted by jonp72 at 1:16 PM on December 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's not entirely true to say that Ulysses is about to come out of copyright. To be precise, the first edition of Ulysses is about to come out of copyright, but not the 'corrected text':

It has often been alleged that the estate originally gave its approval to Hans Walter Gabler’s “corrected text” of Ulysses of 1984 with a view to establishing a new copyright (the copyright notice reads “Reading text© 1984 The Trustees of the Estate of James Joyce”). The claim to a new copyright is apparently based on the amount of “new” (previously unpublished) material that the edition contains. Is that enough to justify a new copyright? The matter has never been tested, but anyone thinking of simply “lifting” the Gabler text might be well advised to think again. The same prudential considerations apply to Danis Rose’s “Reader’s Edition” of 1997, reissued in revised form in 2004.

Admittedly, the 'corrected text' isn't much liked by Joyce scholars, and there are good grounds for arguing that the first edition is actually the better text. But before staging a readthrough of Ulysses it might be advisable to check which edition you're reading it from.
posted by verstegan at 1:19 PM on December 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think that Dedalus is an author-insert character meant to largely give Joyce an excuse to make himself look deep.

Well, no-one can possibly quibble with the first half of that sentence. The second half I don't agree with. Surely he would not be quite so dislikeable if it he were a simple piece of self-aggrandisement. Also, the character is much more complex than that. Dedalus isn't just stuffed in as a simple author insert, he is a long worked at representation of Joyce, and his own inner life.

I think that Joyce deliberately inserted oblique bits to ensure his place in the canon as scholars examined his work over and over again

This, to me, looks like a misreading of the Modernist notion of the canon. To a Modernist, it is surely not the scrutiny of scholars that creates a place, but the relationship a text has to other works in the canon. Deliberate complexity and referentiality are not pretentious on this account, merely devices by which canonical, and thereby artistic, significance is reached.
posted by howfar at 1:24 PM on December 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


Not sure where your enmity has its roots, but Ulysses is the Ur-text for so much 20th-century writing, I can't quite see your reasons for trying to trivialize the work.

I'm not denying its historical importance. In fact, I specifically said that I think it's an important work.

I also don't feel like it's trivializing the novel at all to evaluate it as, you know, a novel--in terms of its success with characters, story, or plot. A lot of criticism of Ulysses seems specifically to avoid talking about the book in these terms, but Major Curley was discussing whether or not it's worth reading, essentially, and there are multiple valid ways to answer that question. If you want to understand the novel's historical importance, it's worth reading. It's worth reading if you want to undertake the endeavor as a matter of pride; I'm glad I can say that I've read Ulysses. But is it worth reading as a book?

I'm not sure. I genuinely think Joyce's literary experiments were sometimes at the expense of his book as art, unless you believe that the best art is so tirelessly committed to its conceptual framework that it disregards the audience (some do; I don't). I think that, for a modern audience, many of the jokes made and games played within their pages have lost their meaning. I think that it's frequently a boring book. I think that someone like jonmc, who doesn't seem particularly enamored of conceptual games some might call "pretentious" would like it. And it's a big, frustrating, irritating book to read, especially outside of an academic classroom.

I'm not one of those readers who is saying, LOL, Ulysses, I didn't get it. I got it--I just don't always think "it" was successful. That's not an answer that trivializes the work, though.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:30 PM on December 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I read Dubliners. But that was years ago. I recall enjoying it but probably not getting it.

Oh, Dubliners is not a particularly difficult read - they're short, realistic stories with clear characters and plots.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:33 PM on December 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think that Dedalus is an author-insert character meant to largely give Joyce an excuse to make himself look deep.

Well, no-one can possibly quibble with the first half of that sentence. The second half I don't agree with. Surely he would not be quite so dislikeable if it he were a simple piece of self-aggrandisement. Also, the character is much more complex than that. Dedalus isn't just stuffed in as a simple author insert, he is a long worked at representation of Joyce, and his own inner life.


That's fair, and I think that the Dedalus we get in Ulysses is more nuanced than the one in Portrait. I would have liked Joyce to take the narrative judgment of the character a bit further at times--the nuance of Bloom felt more naturalistic and realistic, and the autobiographical aspects of Dedalus make me wonder if he lacked the narrative distance to really render him a successful and well-rendered character.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:34 PM on December 31, 2011


Saying nothing else about the rest of your critique, PhoBWanKenobi, I think that "boring" isn't much of a criticism. What does "boring" even mean? That it covers ground that you in particular do not find compelling or worth reading about? Given the fact that we're talking about a book which purports to relate a normal day in the normal life of a normal person, toilet-sitting and all, it seems like it's rather ironic that a person would refer to such a work as "boring." At the very least, I imagine Joyce would be amused and might agree.
posted by koeselitz at 1:36 PM on December 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


(In fact, personally I find the least believable thing about the book to be that it's really not boring enough.)
posted by koeselitz at 1:38 PM on December 31, 2011


I thought the toilet sitting was actually great. But come on, you know what I mean by boring. It was a snooze in sections, without compelling characters or action. You might disagree; that's fine.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:39 PM on December 31, 2011


It should also be pointed out that most readers aren't going to have the background in 'classical' literature needed to really get a lot of the allusions in Ulysses. When I studied it, it was in an English class with several Classics majors; surprise surprise, they all 'got' a lot of important scenes far more readily than the rest of us. Having to read a ridiculous number of footnotes to fill in the gaps doesn't really compare with being immersed in the kind of intellectual culture that takes this stuff for granted.

And boy, do I ever wish Portrait was the better-known of the two. I now tell people who suffer Joyce Angst (and boy, do I ever wish literary snobs would stop inflicting that on people) to skip Ulysses and just read Portrait or Dubliners. You'll be able to say that you've 'read Joyce', and you might actually enjoy yourself!
posted by anaximander at 1:45 PM on December 31, 2011


And boy, do I ever wish Portrait was the better-known of the two.

Portrait was part of the curriculum in my high school English program.
posted by hippybear at 1:47 PM on December 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


It should also be pointed out that most readers aren't going to have the background in 'classical' literature needed to really get a lot of the allusions in Ulysses.

Very well put anaximander. I couldn't agree more with you. I often find the argument that one is not "well-read enough" or "classically trained" to be rather weak when it comes to tackling a major work such as Ulysses or War & Peace or any other great canonical work.

As you said, some allusions might be missed but that does not mean that the reader will derive any less enjoyment from the reading of the text. There's always something new to be gained by reading a work of literature.
posted by Fizz at 1:50 PM on December 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


In our fourth year lit course devoted entirely to the reading of Ulysses, Portrait was required reading before the first day of class.
posted by Fizz at 1:51 PM on December 31, 2011


As you said, some allusions might be missed but that does not mean that the reader will derive any less enjoyment from the reading of the text. There's always something new to be gained by reading a work of literature.

Really? How are we defining literature?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:52 PM on December 31, 2011


I'm not sure what you mean when you ask "Is it worth reading as a book?" If you try to fit it into the framework of a "book" as a traditional beginning-middle-end narrative that is aware of its audience and its needs and expectations and obliging in that respect, then, no, Ulysses will not be a satisfactory read. But the whole point is that it was a new kind of book, one that disregarded the larger, epic narrative through-line (even as it mirrored one) in favor of the mundane, trivial, ephemeral and oblique, i.e., the components of everyday life. Joyce, if he had the sense of his work as enduring, must've known that all his in-jokes and allusions would be lost even upon crossing the Atlantic or even the Irish Sea, much less spanning the decades ahead. I don't think of Joyce as willfully obscurantist so much as demanding of his audiences. You don't have to get every allusion in the book to enjoy it, but part of the enjoyment of the book is that it is new in its exploration of form, style and language. To apply some general formula regarding its enjoyability qua book doesn't make a lot of sense to me.
posted by the sobsister at 1:55 PM on December 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


The one thing I've found daunting about reading Joyce is exactly what has been brought up in this thread a few times: the allusions and references to classical literature and in-jokes of the time and place. Assuming I decide to open up Ulysses with zero knowledge of any of the things Joyce winks at through the story, about how much of the story-story am I going to be missing? Would I be missing so much that I would be better off doing the background reading/research first rather than tackling the book on its own?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:59 PM on December 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wrote you a letter.

p.s. farts lol
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 1:59 PM on December 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm actually typing this sitting on the employee toilet at work,on my iPhone, FWIW. I don't mind the conceptual games so much (I read and loved Infinite Jest after all) as finding Joyce's references too unfamiliar to get my bearings.
posted by jonmc at 2:00 PM on December 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


But the whole point is that it was a new kind of book, one that disregarded the larger, epic narrative through-line (even as it mirrored one) in favor of the mundane, trivial, ephemeral and oblique, i.e., the components of everyday life.

I think both Mrs. Dalloway and Portrait are far more successful as works in this regard. The sections of Ulysses that read out like a play, for example, or are made up of newspaper headlines, don't seem to be aiming to do this at all. In fact, they seem to be there just to play with different forms of narrrative, again, forms that are often lost on modern audiences. And again, if we're talking about reading for understanding of historical significance, sure, everything you're saying makes sense. If you read for other reasons, then I'm still not so sure that reading Ulysses is "worth it."
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:03 PM on December 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


The magnificence of Joyce's artistic accomplishment should inhibit me from having as base a reaction as "Suck it, you greedy bastards" but what can I tell you.
posted by Trurl at 2:15 PM on December 31, 2011


Not liking Ulysses if you like books is like not liking Jimi Hendrix if you're a guitar player.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 2:27 PM on December 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


You can appreciate the skill or imagination used in creating something even if you don't like it.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:29 PM on December 31, 2011


Not liking Ulysses if you like books is like not liking Jimi Hendrix if you're a guitar player.

You mean a perfectly legitimate expression of personal taste, yes?
posted by howfar at 2:30 PM on December 31, 2011 [10 favorites]


We can agree to disagree on the "worth" of reading Ulysses, and, yes, certainly, Joyce engaged in formal experimentation throughout the book, but I've enjoyed it as a book, as as a reimagined classical epic, as an evening at a music hall. All of these (and others) contributed DNA to the work. The fact that a modern audience might not "get" all of it is beside the point--a modern audience likely finds classical epic and music hall alien and unappealing as well. But, you return to the point of the work's "success," and all I can say is if it doesn't work for you, then so be it, but I don't think you've presented any arguments that speak to me regarding its failure as a work of art and as an entertainment.
posted by the sobsister at 2:31 PM on December 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


PhoBWanKenobi, you seem to be generally objecting to the postmodern novel in general, rather than Joyce in particular. I recommend you avoid Pynchon.
posted by mek at 2:31 PM on December 31, 2011


Nah, like I said, I enjoy some pomo works--I don't think Woolf is esteemed nearly enough particularly compared to Joyce, and I do like both Portrait and Dubliners as well as some stuff in Ulysses. Plus, Calvino! Calvino is awesome! But I think that Joyce's . . . hmm, narrative experiments, let's call them, in Ulysses move past the point of awesome and into the area of tiresome, and so, yeah, I think it's pretentious, and I think it's silly to say that it's not.

But I hear you on avoiding Pynchon. Probably not my thing.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:38 PM on December 31, 2011


PhoBWanKenobi, you seem to be generally objecting to the postmodern novel in general, rather than Joyce in particular. I recommend you avoid Pynchon.

I recommend everyone avoids Pynchon. The faster that particular strain of self-indulgence in American literature dies out, the better.
posted by anaximander at 2:41 PM on December 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I swear to god if it's the last thing I do I will work Blowjob Rampage into every single thing I write ever.
posted by The Whelk at 2:59 PM on December 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


In Canada and Australia, all of Joyce's work has been in the public domain since 1991 (source). I haven't really noticed that big a difference in how Joyce is treated up here in Canada, but I guess some thrift editions sold here might not be available in US and EU bookstores?
posted by bobo123 at 3:01 PM on December 31, 2011


I tried reading Pynchon once...Gravity's Rainbow. It was like trying to read Neal Stephenson after getting very, very drunk and being hit in the head with a shovel.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 3:07 PM on December 31, 2011


I recommend everyone avoids Pynchon.

Feh. Pynchon is awesome on all kinds of levels. I've only not finished one of his books (Against The Day, tried three times now, I'll get through it eventually). It's true that there's a lot of referencing going on which gets by the average reader, but his use of language and his ideas are just so compelling (to me, anyway) that I find I don't care if I'm missing specific bits.

His shorter works are quite reader friendly on some level -- Vineland, The Crying Of Lot 49, Inherent Vice, they all pretty much fly along. It's his longer works which require the real devotion to his style and form and even require reading with the reader-created online annotations before you really "get" what he's doing.

The thing about authors like Joyce and Pynchon are that you can allow the language and ideas to carry you forward, but if you're familiar with the deeper knowledge which is being tapped in the works, they take on a depth and texture far beyond what a surface-level reading affords.

Sure, it's work. Sure, it demands a background (or willingness to do research) on behalf of the reader which a lot of people don't want to do. Well, that's why there are all those OTHER books published annually. Those who don't want to delve deep can do so, those who want to read the deeper works as a basic reader can do so, and those who want to really delve into something, they have their literary caves in which they can go spelunking. Hurrah for wide variety in literature!
posted by hippybear at 3:11 PM on December 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


Admittedly, the 'corrected text' isn't much liked by Joyce scholars

Actually, it's liked just fine by a great many Joyceans, one of whom taught me using it during undergrad. John Kidd's reputation in that community (though I report only anecdotes) isn't great, unfortunately, and he's basically flamed out as a contributor without ever producing his long-promised edition of the text, or any further scholarship which might support his (extreme, vituperative) position. The entire correspondence between Kidd, Groden et al in the NYRB is well worth reading in its entirety (it goes on quite a bit after the link verstegen posted), and there's a huge amount more in JJQ.

In short, there are many more Joyce scholars who offer a vastly more nuanced range of opinions, both for and against the Gabler edition than Kidd, and his opinion shouldn't really be seen as representative of any critical consensus, in my opinion.
posted by urschrei at 6:23 PM on December 31, 2011


I don't think his obliqueness was a ploy to ensure PhD students would be following his trail for a century.

I interpreted the chapter in which the students are discussing Shakespeare in the library to be a bit of meta about how Joyce felt his work would be interpreted in the future.

Personally I found the book a mind-blowing experience that totally overturned my ideas of what a novel can be, what a story can be, and the many ways that language can be used to represent the human experience, conscious and unconscious. It connects the most mundane details of daily life to the grand sweep of culture, history and religion in a huge edifice of detail that comes together, piece by piece, as the reader progresses through the 18 episodes. Is it "worth it", as a book? Absolutely. But I think it takes until the second half, or even the final third of the book to fully appreciate what going on. And definitely it helps to read Portrait first.

I think the people saying that Ulysses is pretentious, boring, pointless and not worth the effort have somehow confused this book with Finnegan's Wake. Now there's an unreadable book.
posted by moorooka at 6:46 PM on December 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, did I miss a meeting? Since when are Woolf and Joyce considered postmodern? I mean, other than by people who didn't pay enough attention during their later lit. seminars. Ulysses and To the Lighthouse are considered seminal Modernist works.

At the risk of inflaming some sort of, uh, flame war, you can't have postmodernism in the early 20th century. Sorry!
posted by urschrei at 6:59 PM on December 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


a husband yes its only the usual girls nonsense and giggling that conny connolly writing to her waist tossing it back like that and didnt I dream something too yes there was no decent perfume to be drowned or blown up somewhere I noticed he was he then at dillons or about I suppose he wont let you enjoy anything naturally then might he as a top the moment I popped straight into bed till that thunder woke me up out of the rock they were well beaten all the time how did that excite him bad enough to get the smell of the naked street that disheartened me altogether I suppose I oughtnt to be born all over and out all the doyles said he was rather fair he had something on with his big dolly face like a rose I didnt do something to the pope for a woman is beauty of course contradicting I was selling the horses for the name I dont like being alone in this place like that on show on each others arms or the frogs march pretending to be thankful for our mangy cup of tea into the dirty old kitchen with him because all men get a bit queer to go into mourning for the least they might as well try to walk in my piss like beeftea or chickensoup with some cold veal and ham mixed sandwiches there are a few times to learn not like me when I get my tongue round any of the word a hairpin to open the door just as well he wont let you enjoy anything naturally then might he as a wet nurse all swelled out the light guitar where poetry is in your mouth like when I took off all

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I've never been quite sure about the copyright status of my markov generator output, but I'm happy that now I can pour the most appropriate novel into it and get infinite quantities of Penelope guilt-free.
posted by chortly at 11:22 PM on December 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dubliners is a great, easy read - it's a nice proof, like Picasso's more orthodox sketches and painting, that Joyce can do straight, orthodox work and that he's breaking the rules because he knows them - and A Portrait of the Artist was one of the standard high school novels when I was at high school in New Zealand.
posted by rodgerd at 12:19 AM on January 1, 2012


Ulysses rocks. I'm a bit of a troglodyte and lots of the subtlety of the book sailed gracefully over my head, though I caught the sound and with an accompanying 'helper' text actually found out what I was missing. It was worth it but I love the story of the book even the first, oblivious time through.
There was a really nice FPP Joyce in Images that also did nice towards further elaborating the time and place of the book.
What this particular lapsing of copyright will have I don't know...
posted by From Bklyn at 2:49 AM on January 1, 2012


Even though Ulysses has some tiresome stretches (which are probably different for each reader) and even if one discounts its stylistic experiments and references, it evokes not just a vivid sense of place and time, but it also has passages of amazing beauty. Therefore, it is certainly worth reading for pleasure.
posted by ersatz at 10:36 AM on January 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


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