Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Starting Ulysses

I wanted to start Ulysses on Bloomsday, to give me an added incentive to read a book I have attempted so many times before. The whole book was only just ready in time, so I downloaded the first chapter from the forum page, to have something to be getting on with.
I had some chores to do on the Sunday, so I got my iPod, and started listening. It was strange, really. The first chapter is recorded in a pub, it seems, with loads of background noise, and with the book being passed between various people, some of whom take the whole thing more seriously than others.
My first reaction was disappointment, and to turn off the recording, and read it properly: I felt the readers were not showing enough respect to such a complex work, and one with which I needed all the help I could get. So I did turn it off, and read it from my old paperback copy.
When I set off to work the next day, however, I still only had the first chapter on my iPod. So I decided to listen to chapter one again. And this time, I realised one of the biggest problems I had with it in the past was that is was SUCH a rite-of-passage type literary monument, that I gave it TOO MUCH respect. I always wanted to understand every word. Reading the book myself, I was transported back to being nineteen and confused, disappointed with myself for being so baffled. Having it read by a bunch of chuckling rugby players (just a guess, there) made me realise: It's Just A Book. Thats All. Just Read It.
Don't expect to get every reference to the Roman Catholic sacrament, or Irish street songs. Get what you can from it, and move on. This is not a test.
So - thanks, rugby guys, who I am sure would find such soul-searching hilarious.

5 comments:

hugh said...

listen to 15f.

ChrisHughes said...

Heh. Yes.
I also listened to a few seconds of section 18a.
I feel I am in at the birth of a new artform: neither an audiobook, nor a performance, nor a psychadelic happening, but a unique combination of all three.

hugh said...

yes ulysses is a bit of a dog's breakfast ...everything is in there and more, the good the bad the ugly and the sublime. and this one, more than any other LV book, was about getting peolpe to read it, rather than getting people to listen. but there are plans to do it all again ;-)

hugh said...

oh and for the record, the cast of chapter 1 did indeed include 3 rugby players (2 writers, one physiotherapist), one modern dancer, one social worker, one mining engineer, and one documentary film maker.

ChrisHughes said...

Hah! Can always spot a rugby player. Something to do with the spiritual bond caused by having my head shoved into a toilet by a crowd of rugby players. Weird thing - that has yet to happen with modern dancers... documentary film makers - sure, of course, who hasn't, but not modern dancers.