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How to Savor Ulysses this Summer
It all began on a late spring day, June 16, 1904, when James Joyce asked a young hotel maid to go for a walk with him. In a way, Ulysses is a love story, but not the usual kind. Joyce is in love with literature, so much so that just about everything literature could possibly say is sucked into the vortex of a day-long journey around the city of Dublin. In the process, Joyce tells the story of Homers The Odyssey, replacing the ancient Greek protagonist with a 20th-century Everyman, Leopold Bloom.
The challenge: The 700 page novel takes about 24 hours to read aloud and covers the passage of a single day. While Bloom is making his way around Dublin, buying liver, attending a funeral, visiting a newspaper office and a brothel, his wife, Molly Bloom, is at home with her singing manager, Blazes Boylan, conducting an illicit affair. By nightfall, a weary and well-traveled Leopold arrives home with a surrogate son, Stephen Dudalus, as Molly dreams herself to sleep with the famous last words of the novel yes I said yes I will Yes.
Joyce said it took him 10 years to write Ulysses and that the book should take 10 years to read. He was exaggerating. It isnt that difficult.
The rewards: Ulysses is a bit like mountain-climbing: You read it because it is there, though once youre at the top, the view is worth the effort. Very subtly, it makes us relearn the reading process, chapter by chapter. Joyce shifts narrative voices and techniques, centering each chapter around a different art, a different part of the body and a different episode of Homers ancient epic poem about a man trying to get home.
Just as Supertramp had that old song, Take the Long Way Home, so Joyce writes a novel about a day that never seems to end. And what a journey it is, wonderful for stay-at-home summers in the city.
But we did take time to fish, coming home with a 38 pound Spring Salmon to can, (Helen put down 40 half pints) while I smoked 13 Dolly Varden Trout (the Irish Way). They had some very hot weather down in the city, but up in the Cariboo we were cool and refreshed.
Note: As always, Hartson and Helen are a tremendous help to us with this web site; we'd like to thank them for this delightful contribition and also take this opportunity to wish all of our subscribers and visitors a happy and safe summer.
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Glendalough - the glen of the two lakes
The location is spellbinding. It encompasses two clear water lakes situated beneath the sheer cliffs of a deep valley which was carved out by glaciers during the Ice Age. The perfect spot for a serene monastic settlement.
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March 4, 2011
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