James Joyce's “Ulysses” is widely considered to be both a literary masterpiece and one of the hardest works of literature to read. It inspires such devotion that once a year, thousands of people all over the world dress up like the characters, take to the streets, and read the book aloud. So what is it about this novel that inspires so many people? Sam Slote uncovers the allure of this epic tome. Lesson by Sam Slote, directed by Paper Panther.
James Joyce was born on this day in 1882. One of the most influential writers of the twentieth century, his novel Ulysses stands as a monument to modernism but remains a daunting challenge to many readers. This picture of Marilyn Monroe was taken during a photoshoot with Eve Arnold, who described the moment thus:
'We worked on a beach on Long Island. She was visiting Norman Rosten the poet…. I asked her what she was reading when I went to pick her up (I was trying to get an idea of how she spent her time). She said she kept Ulysses in her car and had been reading it for a long time. She said she loved the sound of it and would read it aloud to herself to try to make sense of it — but she found it hard going. She couldn’t read it consecutively. When we stopped at a local playground to photograph she got out the book and started to read while I loaded the film. So, of course, I photographed her. It was always a collaborative effort of photographer and subject where she was concerned — but almost more her input.'
James Joyce reading an excerpt from the Aeolus episode. Recorded in 1924.
He began: — Mr Chairman, ladies and gentlemen: Great was my admiration in listening to the remarks addressed to the youth of Ireland a moment since by my learned friend. It seemed to me that I had been transported into a country far away from this country, into an age remote from this age, that I stood in ancient Egypt and that I was listening to the speech of some highpriest of that land addressed to the youthful Moses. His listeners held their cigarettes poised to hear, their smoke ascending in frail stalks that flowered with his speech. And let our crooked smokes. Noble words coming. Look out. Could you try your hand at it yourself? — And it seemed to me that I heard the voice of that Egyptian highpriest raised in a tone of like haughtiness and like pride. I heard his words and their meaning was revealed to me.
From the Fathers
It was revealed to me that those things are good which yet are corrupted which neither if they were supremely good nor unless they were good could be corrupted. Ah, curse you! That's saint Augustine. — Why will you jews not accept our culture, our religion and our language? You are a tribe of nomad herdsmen; we are a mighty people. You have no cities nor no wealth: our cities are hives of humanity and our galleys, trireme and quadrireme, laden with all manner merchandise furrow the waters of the known globe. You have but emerged from primitive conditions: we have a literature, a priesthood, an agelong history and a polity. Nile. Child, man, effigy. By the Nilebank the babemaries kneel, cradle of bulrushes: a man supple in combat: stonehorned, stonebearded, heart of stone. — You pray to a local and obscure idol: our temples, majestic and mysterious, are the abodes of Isis and Osiris, of Horus and Ammon Ra. Yours serfdom, awe and humbleness: ours thunder and the seas. Israel is weak and few are her children: Egypt is an host and terrible are her arms. Vagrants and daylabourers are you called: the world trembles at our name. A dumb belch of hunger cleft his speech. He lifted his voice above it boldly: — But, ladies and gentlemen, had the youthful Moses listened to and accepted that view of life, had he bowed his head and bowed his will and bowed his spirit before that arrogant admonition he would never have brought the chosen people out of their house of bondage nor followed the pillar of the cloud by day. He would never have spoken with the Eternal amid lightnings on Sinai's mountaintop nor ever have come down with the light of inspiration shining in his countenance and bearing in his arms the tables of the law, graven in the language of the outlaw.
First photograph features Joyce and Sylvia Beach outside the door of Shakespeare and Company on the Rue de l'Odéon. Paris, 1920.
...and O that awful deepdown torrent O and the sea the sea crimson sometimes like fire and the glorious sunsets and the figtrees in the Alameda gardens yes and all the queer little streets and the pink and blue and yellow houses and the rosegardens and the jessamine and geraniums and cactuses and Gibraltar as a girl where I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.
Custa 30.000 dólares (pelo menos) em alguns recantos da Web, tal é a raridade. É uma edição especial do Ulysses do James Joyce com desenhos de Henri Matisse. A ideia não foi de nenhum dos dois, claro, foi de um editor. Consigo imaginá-lo, sentado na sua cadeira de executivo ou depois de uma boa dose de copos e charutos. "E se..."
É claro que o bom do Henri não teve paciência para ler o bom do James e fez os bonecos que lhe passaram pela cabeça, inspirado na original Odisseia e não na dublinesca de Joyce. Uma amostra do resultado está aqui em baixo:
Descobri esta colaboração aqui e é claro que descobri logo também que o Salvador Dali tinha feito ilustrações para a Alice do Lewis Carroll. E se pensar dois segundos no assunto, faz obviamente sentido. Tomem lá mais uns exemplos. O resto está aqui.