Author: James Joyce
Length: 1,797 minutes / 29.95 hours
OK, I’ll be the first to admit that perhaps the audiobook version of this story isn’t the best way to digest it. While I did appreciate the Irish accent of the man who read this book, there really wasn’t much of a chance to re-read sections that were quite confusing. As a result, I have no idea what this book is about or what it was supposed to convey. I had a loose understanding that it was based on Homer’s The Odyssey, which helped make a few connections here and there, but I honestly can’t say that this parallel between the plots of the two stories is obvious at all.
Perhaps the weakness I perceive in this story is due to its status as one of the great pieces of modernist literature. If that’s the case, then I’ll admit that I don’t understand modernist literature at all. None of it made any sense at all. I would almost wager, at times, that Joyce was merely paid by the word, thus explaining the numerous times he just listed off the names of people, synonyms of words, or just rambled on until he made a couple extra shillings. Of course, it could be that I expected a story to be present instead of a loose string of poetic and complicated words. Maybe that’s the link it shares with The Odyssey: both are epic poems (but for my money, I’d read The Odyssey again in a heartbeat instead of this).
This is also not to mention the controversial topics that Joyce covers in this book. From sex to religion and back to sex again, I wouldn’t say I agree with his opinions on anything. For years I’ve heard that this is one of the great stories of literature, but I can’t say I’m impressed. None of it was particularly inspiring (the parts that made any sense, that is) and if he had a point to make, it was lost on me. Again, I might get more out of Ulysses if I was able to read it instead of listening to it, but as it stands I don’t have any interest in reading this lengthy piece of nothingness after having had to listen to it.
A disappointing and confusing piece of “literature”, I give Ulysses 1.0 stars out of 5.