This won’t be a word-for-word recap of what happened in part one because 1) I get a lot of students looking for help with their book reports and I always tell them to just read the book, 2) It’s nearly impossible to give you a full recap without me rambling on too long.
My reaction to part one is surprising because everyone, and I mean everyone has called this a BEAST of a book. That may be but part one seemed pretty timid to me. We meet Buck Mulligan. He’s rather over-the-top and likes to play people off against each other. Mainly, his friend Stephen Dedalus against everyone else. Buck believes that Stephen has some darkness within him. Why? Because Stephen refused to pray for his own mother when she was on her deathbed. This is a huge deal and is mentioned many times in part one.
The writing at this point is all over the place. Buck spouts off interesting observations like the color of water being “snot green”. Buck is wildly interesting but keeping track of his thoughts is a challenge.
Right when I thought I had figured Buck out, we switch to Stephen and learn a little about him and his innermost thoughts. We also get to know a fellow named Haines a bit better although the three of them seem to be at odds with one another.
Buck is what I call a “swing” friend. A friend who will swing in whatever direction that suits him at the time. Sometimes he is insulting you and other times he appears to be supportive but it’s unclear why.
All in all, not a bad start. On to part two which is super long. For those who joined us, how are you doing? What do you think so far?
Not sure what kind of discussion is to be had because there are only a few of us reading it but I ask these two questions:
Does Ulysses succeed in its goal of elevating the common man or does it come across as literary pandering to lower class people?
After part one and some of part two, I feel as if the common man is anything but common in this novel. No matter how mundane the task, everything is built up to be larger than life. I suppose you could say that everything is an adventure.
Are there any benefits to be gained from the difficulty of Ulysses? How would it be a different book if it were easier?
If it were easier to read, I think more people would give it a chance. However, the difficulty lends itself a certain cachet. I feel incredibly smart toting the book around town. I get curious stares everywhere I go.
It’s interesting though because if someone tells me they’ve read it, I ask for their impression of the book and they just stand there staring at me and then end with “It’s a beast!” That is what I have heard over and over again.
That’s all I have. Until next time, Happy reading.