I am moved by Lady Percy 's expression of love. CLICK HERE - see if you agree.
Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
I re-comment on comments and re-re-re-comment on re-re-comments.
* One exception: short stories.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Who needs lit.crit?

My tattered Ulysses is now a non-working monument, the words contained slimly in my Kindle, their weightiness (avoirdupois) diminished, their literary weight unaffected. But my re-read, the fourth or fifth, has been delayed. VR is presently following the 22-CD audio integrale. A few minutes ago Private Carr punched Stephen Daedalus's mug and gentle Leopold Bloom picked up the pieces. I came upstairs reluctantly.

Never mind me. Why don't I hand over to John M. Woolsey, US district court judge, who in 1933 lifted the ban on Ulysses, claimed to be too raw for American sensibilities.

Woolsey read Ulysses "once in its entirety" and "the passages of which the Government complains several times." He admits it is not an easy book to read or understand.

"Joyce has attempted - it seems to me with astonishing success - to show how the screen of consciousness with its ever-shifting kaleidoscopic impressions carries... not only what is in the focus of each man's observation of the actual things about him but also... past impressions, some recent and some drawn up by association from the domain of the subconscious."

Woolsey adds that by being loyal to his technique and not funking its implications Joyce has been misunderstood and misrepresented. The "dirty" words are old Saxon words, well-known to men and "I venture to many women."  Nevertheless there is no "dirt for dirt's sake".

Legally, does Ulysses "stir the sex impulses"? Woolsey checked his impressions with two respected friends and they agreed with him. The book is not pornographic and its "net effect on them was only that of a somewhat tragic and very powerful commentary on the inner lives of men and women".

Ulysses is "a sincere attempt to devise a new literary method for the observation and description of mankind". Good on yer, judge.


  1. I suppose I should attempt to read Ulysses. My brother has gotten into it a ways on several occasions. I haven't read The Odyssey either, but have been highly entertained every time I watched "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?".

  2. MikeM: Only read it when you're fairly convinced it's a masterpiece and that your life is incomplete without it. You'll need that kind of conviction to get through it the first time. Then you'll know.

    I enjoyed "Brother" but it's a long way from both.