Saturday, September 28, 2013

James Joyce - Ulysses VII

"This book would be a signature piece of the 20 century, post-modern literature, ranking high up there with Kafka and Proust."


"I read only the first two pages, this told me everything I needed to know about this puffed up trainwreck of a book. It frightens me that anyone could sit down with this book, waste hours of their life on it and THEN recommend it to another person! Joyce exhibits none of the traits of our truly great authors. Where a skilled writer will agonise for days to find the best word for the job, Joyce settles for the most obscure. In place of good storytelling and interesting, fleshed out characters, we get the most absurd caricatures of intellectual men imaginable. I am NOT an English student but a physics phd and can see this book for the rot it is. Do not waste so much as a moment of your life on this rubbish."


"Not even going to attempt to finish this one; very little happened, and even less of it made sense.
Yes, you're edgy, you're cultured, I get it. Just write a proper book."


"This book is un-comprehensible by humans."


"This is utter crap, but then Joyce intended his work to be unreadable. People whom like Ulysses probably pride themselves on reading things that they've never actually opened - that said, I found myself foundering in Ulysses, Joyce's insane farce of literature, because it's garbage."


"It galls me every time I see a list of the great 20th century novels and this piece of claptrap is on the top. The emperor has no clothes!"


"Ulysses reminds me of The Waste Land by T S Eliot ... One of the tutors explained to me, when we were setting up the exhibition at the end of the final semester, that T S Eliot was interesting because he sort of wrote The Waste Land as confusing as he could and somehow James Joyce was in on it too, in some great, mysterious modernist conspiracy. I didn't entirely pay attention ... The point still stands: empirically, the failings I find in Ulysses are the failings I find in The Waste Land; the obscure references, the anti-theism (which is based on the 'christians I've met are fools so god mustn't exist' logic you see mainly on Facebook nowadays), the confusing wording, and the whole starving artists angle, however, are things I've enjoyed in other books. So, empirically speaking, I have to say, the only factor left is whether it's well written. It can't be. That's the difference. The almost stubbornly clumsy jury rigging of the writer's vocabulary comes off like Richard Dawkins sitting backwards on a chair and high-fiving his friends. It makes my brow bunch up and my hand squeeze my tear ducts... it makes me cringe, in short. Ulysses makes me cringe. You can write that on my epitaph, I don't give a shit."


"Supposedly this is modernism at its best. For me this was one of the most boring and worst written books I have ever read. You can call it a 'stream of consciousness' but if so, this consciousness is that of a dull, unimaginative and perhaps slightly depraved (or just shockingly honest) man. Seriously, people may talk about this, but it’s just not worth your trouble to read. It’s massively long and boring. Unfortunately you can’t just read extracts either. Joyce embraces loads of different styles. At one point the book turns into a play (occurring in one of the main character’s drunken head). Quite early on the prose becomes very shorthand – what we might call informal and 'note-taking' language. If English isn’t your native language you might not be able to understand this at all. At times he borrows dense scientific, or medieval English or Irish styles too. I suppose it is a 'groundbreaking piece of literature' but if it was an experiment into different styles it utterly failed. Most of the styles are really hard to read and unsatisfying. There is a reason for the conventions of writing, and although some of them are pointless and arbitrary I don’t think that’s reason enough to abandon them all. Overall I feel that Joyce cheapens the greatest traditions of literature and science by using them to describe the banal and ugly in life. The reason he revolutionised literature is because he has no sense of the beauty of what he has ruined."


"I'm sorry, but I'm a pretty smart guy and a fairly accomplished reader. But I couldn't make heads or tails of this. It's undecipherable garbage ... I don't know why you'd want to bother trying. Leave this one in the dustbin of history folks"


DEAR READERS: BAD REVIEWS OF GOOD BOOKS IS APPROACHING ITS FIVE HUNDREDTH POST, AND WITH THAT POST THE BLOG WILL BE COMING TO AN END. BUT I HAVE A NEW, HOPEFULLY MORE CONSTRUCTIVE PROJECT BREWING, AND YOU'RE ALL INVITED! I'M NOT EVEN USING A SECRET IDENTITY THIS TIME. IF YOU LIKE LEARNING THINGS OR TEACHING THINGS THEN I'D LOVE TO HAVE YOU ALONG.

1 comment:

  1. It would be cool if you kept the blog online, or at least maintain your reading list and Philippicae somewhere.

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