In 1922, a writer for the Observer commented: “No book has been more eagerly and curiously awaited by the strange little inner circle of book-lovers and littérateurs than James Joyce’s Ulysses.” After declaring Joyce to be a man of genius, the writer said, “I cannot see how the work upon which Mr Joyce spent seven strenuous years, years of wrestling and of agony, can ever be given to the public.” The objection then, or the fear, was that the book would wreak havoc on the morals of the general population. Today, the concern is not so much with scandal as with difficulty: annotated versions abound, prefaces fall all over themselves to caution readers. Yes, this is difficult. No, you might not finish. Please buy the book anyway. Give it a go.
In this episode, Jacke talks to Mike about the experience he had slow-reading Ulysses online in a community of readers. What were the challenges? What were the payoffs? How was it for him, and for his fellow hashtaggers? It’s a question to ask as one might ask someone after a war or pandemic or trip from a dangerous mountain. How was your Ulysses?
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We often think of James Joyce as a man in his thirties and forties, a monkish, fanatical, eyepatch-wearing author, trapped in his hovel and his own mind, agonizing over his masterpieces, sentence by sentence, word by laborious word. But young James Joyce, the one who studied literature in college and roamed the night-time streets of Dublin with his friends, laughing and carousing and observing the characters around him, was a different person altogether – or was he? Host Jacke Wilson takes a look at the James Joyce who studied his fellow Dubliners – and then wrote a masterful collection of short stories that he named after them.
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Vincent O’Neill hails from Sandycove, Dublin, where he grew up in the shadow of the tower made famous by the opening chapter of James Joyce’s Ulysses. After a childhood spent tracing the steps of Joyce’s characters, Vincent developed a love for the theatre, eventually becoming the co-founder and artistic director of the Irish Classical Theatre Company in Buffalo, New York. He joins Jacke Wilson for a discussion of James Joyce and the theatre, including a staging of Joyce’s play Exiles, the magic of Joyce’s language, and the long journey to bring an adaptation of Finnegan’s Wake to the stage.
Learn more about the Irish Classical Theatre Company at irishclassical.com.
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“Handel – Entrance to the Queen of Sheba” by Advent Chamber Orchestra (From the Free Music Archive / CC by SA).