For the first book of our British Novel course, this was certainly a hefty one. This text comes with a giant reputation.
Difficult. Dense. Classic.
“I’ve tried to get through Joyce but never could.”
That’s what I heard more often than not.
The thing is, I feel anxious when faced with these titles, these foundations of our cannon of literature. I feel like I’m not going to understand it, not going to get it, not going to be able to talk about it or process it. I feel like it comes with such a HUGE reputation…It’s the Claire Standish of the literary world and I’m Allison Reynolds*, forever in the corner eating pixie stix sandwiches while the cool kids absorb and explicate all of the worlds best words.
I am happy to report that this particular work…
I got it.
I read it.
I was determined.
I still really believe that a titch of Jameson and a romp with a randy redhead would help the process…but whatever.
There are moments of brilliance. Beautifully woven words and images, it’s the perfect tiramisu. Layered with delicate flavors and scenes and delicious illusions and ohmygod-I-understand-what-he’s-talking-about!!! It’s that Oprah moment when she sing talks her point home.
I don’t love it.
I don’t really even like it.
The work, as a whole.
Sometimes I wonder if I’m even an English major. What the hell???
But it just is what it is. I read it. I like parts of it. The Catholic church, the Ireland of it all, the weakness of the character’s spirit and the evolution of said spirit…all depicted with vivid, clear words. So beautiful. So clear. So perfect. Still not my favorite.
I’m not a reader that seeks the Happily Ever After. I don’t need the happy ending. *dirty* (come on.
we all –– that’s a different post) This story just had SO little joy. SO little hope. Even as the protagonist grew up, survived the wars of family, God, country…the scar tissue was still so raw and red and tender…it was painful to ingest.
So. That’s where I am with the class. Book One: down. All required postings: Done. James Joyce:My Bitch. . . not really my bitch. But finishing was something I do feel like I deserve a pat on the back for. People who are far smarter than I have professed to throwing this story to the dogs.
I am intrigued by the man. I’m intrigued by the fact that we as students of literature, scholars of the humanities, still profess that THIS is a work to be studied. When does it become A WORK TO BE STUDIED? And when does it become something that doesn’t translate anymore? What happens with an iconic work when it fails to reach the masses? These are questions I have. I’m sure I’m not the only one to ask them. I’m sure a revisiting is in order. I’m not sure if I’ll ever get moist at the thought. I’d like to know more about Joyce…I think a trip to Dublin is just what I need.
Who’s with me?