Top positive review
21 May 2019
James Joyce’s masterpiece is always worth reading and is a must read especially for those into modernist literature. In fact, this has become so famous that in Ireland of course you now have Bloomsday – no mean feat in itself (Dublin of course is the place to go). Along with being an important modernist work this is also important for all book lovers as this has so much to offer and is something that you can never become bored with.
Taking Homer and The Odyssey as its inspiration and the structure of this monumental novel, so we have a tale here that takes in a single day. The main protagonist here, Leopold Bloom is a character that first appears in the second part here and being of some Jewish descent this jars with the first part where we read of certain anti-Semitic comments and feelings. We thus follow what happens and meet and hear from various characters over this one day.
Full of incident, considered by some as controversial and obscene at its first publication, so we can all read this nowadays with a more open mind, and reflect upon the genius that Joyce displays here. There is wordplay, puns and motifs, and with so much detail this book comes alive in your hands as you immerse yourself in the pages. We of course have the re-introduction of Stephen Dedalus here who those who have read it will recognise from ‘A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man’, who appears right near the beginning of this book.
With meticulous detail and a lot of thought going into the construction of what is an experimental work, so this takes stream of consciousness to the highest point it can go, which inevitably meant that in some ways Joyce caught himself in a dead end, and that is why Finnegans Wake is so different, but in ways the logical way to go after this monumental work.
If you have never read this before you may find yourself intimidated and unsure of what you are reading, but that is okay, just go with the flow. This only really becomes very difficult if you have to study it, because you will then be expected to recognise every single nuance and piece of wordplay, etc. that goes on.
In all this is a very clever book, that is erudite, full of humour and intelligence and is certainly worth reading. Don’t expect to speed through this though, because there is so much to take in and absorb. If you don’t end up liking it, fair enough, but at least you will be one of those who have tried to read it, rather than some who are quite willing to write this off as not very good, despite the fact that they have never even opened it.