(One should not judge a book by its Penguin Modern Classics cover.)
I decided - for the third time - to tackle James Joyce's Ulysses,
in the hope that my near-senility would reveal its genius.
But - again - I found it juvenile, painfully smart-ass,
pretentious, and overlaid (if not overladen) with
a not-very-pleasant kind of matey heterosexuality.
In that kind of writing, Henry Miller is better
funnier, more in-your-face - but not so allusive.
(Come to think of it, I'm not so keen on the Odyssey, either -
another Adventure Book for Boys!)
Fantastically literate, but with nothing underneath
that I could discern : literary forms without content
As for originality, Flann O'Brien's hilarious,
existentialist, surreal Third Policeman is far more readable,
far less contrived.
It might be comparing chalk with cheese, but Joyce's
Czech/German/Jewish contemporary Kafka
was 'all content', profound, and anything but a show-off.
So why is this book so revered by the Literati, the Irish
and, above all, by Americans ? Is it, like Proust
(whom I also three times found claustrophobic, unreadable even in French)
on a (deep and high) level that I'll never reach ?
Or was Joyce just lucky to have been pitied
by the unfortunate Sylvia Beach ?