How to Read James Joyce’s Ulysses (and Why You Should Avoid “How-to” Guides Like This One)

One day I will sit down and get through the whole thing. This seems useful for when that time comes.

Biblioklept

Bloomsday, an annual celebration of James Joyce’s Ulysses, is upon us today with moreexcitement than ever. Even with the festivities, the book’s reputation for density, erudition, and inscrutability still daunts many readers–leading to a glut of guidebooks, summaries, and annotations. Ironically, rather than inviting first-time readers to the text, the sheer volume of these guides to Ulysses can paradoxically repel. Their very existence seems predicated on an intense need, and although some of the guides out there can be helpful, others can get in the way. This need not be. Ulysses deserves its reputation as one the best books in the English language. It generously overflows with insight into the human experience, and it’s very, very funny. And, most importantly, anyone can read it.

Here are a few thoughts on how to read Ulysses, enumerated–because people like lists:

1. Ignore all guides, lists, maps, annotations, summaries…

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