Bloomsday 2019!

While I reach for it for some reason nearly every week, on my birthday I began my third decennial reading of Ulysses with the goal of finishing it today—June 16—Bloomsday, the day the story took place 115 years ago. Turns out I finished it in just a month (my first reading in 1999 took 4 months, second about a week or two under 3 months). So either I’m getting faster or I can stand bigger pieces the book daily.

Some things to report from this reading:

  • I began reading at 8am April 30th, the time of day that the book begins. And I finished sometime after 2am on May 31st, about the time Molly Bloom is falling back asleep.

  • I read the first 6 chapters in 1,4,2,5,3,6 order, to match their roughly simultaneous nature. In other words, to better understand what Bloom was doing during chapter 5 while Stephen was teaching in chapter 2.

  • I had BIG breakthroughs reading the Cyclops and Nausica chapters. Huge windows of new comprehension opened in my mind. I absolutely love these chapters now. The drawing and quartering scene from Cyclops is one of my favorite things in the whole book. They should include it as an excerpt in literature books. 

  • Also very much enjoyed Wandering Rocks for the first time. Really a fun chapter. 

  • Oxen in the Sun still I cannot conquer. I may return to reread it alone later this year with every possible supplemental resource on hand. 

  • Still not very into Eumaeus chapter. It’s so long! And something I consider an obstacle before getting to the great Ithaca chapter, my longtime possibly favorite chapter. 

  • On this reading I learned: Bloom is handsome. Who knew!

  • I now believe that I like Finnegans Wake more than I like Ulysses. It’s just such an unrestrained monster. But Ulysses is awe inspiring in its own ways. 

All in all, I’d say it’s worth reading, but you don’t have to if you don’t want