Classic Remarks: A Classic I’m Afraid to Pick Up

Classic Remarks is a meme hosted by Krysta and Brianna at Pages Unbound. Each week, they pose a question about classic works of literature in order for readers to engage in a continuing conversation about elements of classic literature, the literary ‘canon’, and the timelessness of story. If you’re interested in participating, you can find the schedule here.

The topic is “what is a classic you’re afraid to pick up”, but honestly, I’m not afraid of any book. I’m only afraid that I’d drop a tome like this on my foot.

Because, I mean… James Joyce’s Ulysses is about 800 pages long. So it’s a big book. If you dropped it on your foot it might break a bone. Or at least cause a nasty bruise.

But I have attempted to read Ulysses. Twice. I don’t remember how far I got into it each time (the second time was marginally farther in than the first, that I do remember), but I noped right out of that before terribly long because stream of consciousness narratives have never appealed to me. I mean, I tried Virginia Woolf’s novel, Mrs. Dalloway, and despite of its far shorter length of 170 pages and passages of glittering prose, I still struggled to finish it.

So Ulysses will remain a book I’ve never read because I have zero interest in a single day in the life of Leopold Bloom, what his idle thoughts were during that day, or the experimental literary techniques Joyce was trying out in this doorstopper of a book. I don’t care about its earthy humor, its wordplay, or its status as a Great Work of Twentieth Century Literature. It can be as puffed up as it wants to be. There’s no one who can make me read it.

So there.

18 thoughts on “Classic Remarks: A Classic I’m Afraid to Pick Up

  1. Same. I don’t like stream-of-consciousness books. I don’t understand them. And so I’m afraid to pick up one that so’s terribly long!

  2. I had a class that spent half the semester on James Joyce, and boy did I suffer through pointless short stories and some rando dude whining in The Portrait of the Artist. I read part of Ulysses and no, thank you.

  3. Well, ok then! 🙂 I’ve never read anything by Joyce, and I struggle to think of any stream of consciousness books I’ve read. I searched for a list of “great” ones and though I recognized many names the only one I’d read was The Great Gatsby, and that so long ago I really don’t recall many specifics. I’m sure I’ll likely give one of the books a try at some point and can then better appreciate the quirks of that form of narrative. Entertaining post!

  4. Agreed! I’m not a fan of stream-of-consciousness narrative and the thought of reading 500+ pages scares me off. I also don’t know anyone who’s actually gotten to the end of it, let alone enjoy it 😀

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