Went in to B&N today because I got a gift card for Christmas and might as well. Walked over to /lit/ and picked up Ulysses. My head hurt just flipping through it. I've always considered my self smart, aced ACT and AP classes, killed my lit survey classes in college last year, read a book or two a month (last month was Hamlet and Inferno) BUT APPARENTLY I'M A BIG FUCKING SHAM. How do I prepare myself for something like Ulysses? Just read more? Study the Joyce's other stuff first? Fuck validation, I just want to not feel like an idiot while reading a book
Although Faulkner came a bit later, I would recommend reading some of his works before nosediving into Ulysses. Namely, As I Lay Dying first and then Sound and the Fury. It will prepare you for the stream of consciousness tumble that Ulysses is composed of.
It is definitely not a "just flip through it" book, you need to start slow and get used to it. It also helps if you read Joyce's works sequentially, more than most authors, as his style progresses. Knowing Dubliners and Portrait first will really help. You will feel like an idiot, some of the characters are designed to make you feel like that until you get them, just as you'll feel like a weakling when you first go to a gym. Work at it slow and understand it is a book you never stop reading and finish with.
Definitely read (or read up on) the Odyssey. You can jump around in Ulysses, each chapter is a divine intellectual wank. Read and reread.
If you can't get into Ulysses, both 'Portrait of the Artist' and Dubliners are far more accessible yet infinitely less entertaining.
>you can jump around in Ulysses
Only through chapters 1-3 and 4-6. After that the timeline becomes linear.
>I flicked through ulysses and didn't understand it.
Maybe you should try and read it instead, you bloody SHAM.
>leave school at 16
>no formal education certificates
>have no problem reading Ulysses
I don't understand what the problem with following Ullyses is.
Maybe if English isn't your first language and we were 50 years in the past I'd have more sympathy but when you have access to the Internet and can get any number of annotation sites in less than a second, and when you can specific answers to specific questions in the shorter length of time than it takes to type out the question, you have absolutely no excuse barring lacking of intelligence.
a basic understanding of Irish religious history, i.e. Catholicism and Protestantism and their relation respectively to Republicanism and Unionism will probably hold you over in a first reading of the book.
If you want to go into greater depth it would help to know a fair amount of Irish political history up to that point
>Charles Stewart Parnell
Joyce's wrote a poem about his death when he was 9. Ivy Day in the Committee Room in Dubliners and the beginning of A Portrait discuss his death.
>Assassination in Phoenix Park
Mentioned somewhere in Ulysses in the early chapters... Hades maybe?
Also what would follow in the time between Ulysses' setting and 1922 when it was published.
>The Easter Rising in 1916
Where Fenians took over O'Connell Street's post office and later gained a huge majority for Sinn Fein in the Parliamentary elections
>War for Independence and Civil war
It will help you at certain points like the Fenian in the Cyclops episode and the British soldier in Circe.
I wouldn't worry too much about not 'getting' everything though. It will probably only take you a fortnight or so to read the thing if you just go for it. It then puts you in a much better position to look back in greater depth. A lot of Universities have Undergrads read Ulysses in the first year.
you could just sit down and read it like i did. i didnt read dubliners or portrait until after i read Ulysses, didnt matter to me much, i still felt i grasped some of the themes and had a lot of fun too, getting wrapped up in a language all its own. there's a reason why it's one of the greatest english works of all time. it might seem unappealing at first, but if you really let it swallow you up, and don't resist it out of danger of lacking recognition for certain levels, rather, just enjoy the prose, the interesting moments that he tries to portray. if you want a perfect literary moment, go read dubliners. i feel like he explained what he wanted to do in the portrait of an artist, when he talked about the author as the god of the work, trying to remove himself from existence, and it seems that joyce was trying to delve deeper into that, i think he made near success in Proteus, if not total success, where he gave us scenes of pure thought in a moment, removed away from a stream of thought of his own character in a novel, giving us that close of a view of the mind, while still trying to remove himself from influence. it was so easy to forget the book and get lost, and if i can gain that without any prior knowledge, just a thirst for challenge and fun in literature, you can too. just push through it. if you want to learn everything he tried to do, then read it again after, but with a guide. but i think just diving in and experiencing it is quite an amazing thing.
I'm french and know fuck all about irish history, didn't read any Joyce before but enjoyed Ulysses. It was "what can he come up with now" time for 700 pages. protip: read it at 20 and then once every ten years until death.