Yohannon (yohannon) wrote,
Yohannon
yohannon

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Bloomsday Is Nigh

Back in college we had a professor, a Richard Stack who was raised in Dublin and got his chops from Trinity College. So of course he was the go to guy for learning anything Joyce.

He had a course on Ulysses, as in the one book. I still have the companion book I bought for the course, "Allusions in Ulysses", a reminder of just how dense prose can truly be if one were to put one's mind to it. As one pundit has recently written, "It took Joyce 7 years to write the book, and some would say it takes that long to read it".

It's a classic example of how writers use their lives as a template for their work: The date of the book (June 16, 1904) is a commemoration of the day Joyce met the love of his life. One hell of a Valentine, don't you think?

Listening to Richard (yeah, he was THAT sort of professor) talk about the book was one of the high points of my higher education -- He had a bushy red beard and big toothy smile restraining (but only barely) that booming Irish voice. I still recall when one of the continuing education (read: retired) students wondered if the book was dirty hearing him laugh, proclaiming "Oh YES! It's a WONDERFULLY dirty book!"

I marveled when I realized that Mr. Bloom was clearly enamored of well rounded women, his fascination as he watched "two great hams" walking down the street away from him a clear mirror for my own feelings... and the felt shock at the thought that another human being had captured my thoughts as a young man years before I was born.

I won't argue whether this indeed was the pinnacle of 20th century literature: Frankly it may be centuries before we figure out what that was. I think the very fact that his influence keeps coming up, even if it's only to argue his validity all these years later, the fact that allusions TO Ulysses are rampant (you'll find it through out Firesign Theater and Monty Python's works) will keep the work alive for at least that long. I haven't read the book since that class, and am considering giving it another go, perhaps to see it two decades of life experience will make it any easier to digest.

And while I will raise a glass to author and his creation, I refuse to eat gorgonzola and mustard sandwiches. Oh, and to Richard Stack, where ever he is... hopefully still smiling, laughing, and exploring worlds of literature, the same guide into murky forbidding territory he was for me.

Oh, and to ditto the comment made elsewhere... be sure to say "Yes!" to someone you love tonight.
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