“If the accused could speak he could a tale unfold one of the strangest that have ever been narrated between the covers of a book.” James Joyce’s Ulysses has been accused of being unreadable and obscene; and its history is far from sedate. For a while it had been banned in the UK and the United States because of its unabashed and sometimes explicit descriptions (and choice of language).

Make no mistake, reading Ulysses is a huge undertaking but it’s something I think every serious fan of literature should undertake at some point (side note, since it’s based on Homer’s Odyssey, it’s doubly interesting if you’ve ever read the original… though it probably won’t really help to understand some of Joyce’s truly enigmatic phrases and slang).

I finished Ulysses on Bloomsday! Unintentionally, I assure you, I got so caught up reading it I read through the whole night of June 15th to the morning of June 16th. When I realized what day I finished reading Ulysses, I geeked out. There are almost no words I can use to explain how incredibly epic this novel is; you just need to read it to understand what I mean. Don’t be intimidated, pick it up, read it. Here are some quotes I either found amusing/insightful/funny/or a complete epitome of Ulysses …

Pain, that was not yet the pain of love fretted his heart.

Where was the chap I saw in that picture somewhere? Ah, in the dead sea, floating on his back, reading a book with a parasol open. Couldn’t sink if you tried: so thick with salt. Because the weight of the water, no, the weight of the body in the water is equal to the weight of the. Or is it the volume is equal of the weight? It’s a law something like that. Vance in High school cracking his fingerjoints, teaching. The college curriculum. Cracking curriculum. What is weight really when you say the weight? Thirtytwo feet per second, per second. Law of falling bodies: per second, per second. They all fall to the ground. The earth. It’s the force of gravity of the earth is the weight.

The first fellow that picked an herb to cure himself had a bit of pluck.

She swore to him as they mingled the salt streams of their tears that she would cherish his memory, that she would never forget her hero boy who went to his death with a song on his lips as if he were but going to a hurling match in Clonturk park.

On the other hand what incensed him more inwardly was the blatant jokes of the cabmen and so on, who passed it all off as a jest, laughing immoderately, pretending to understand everything, the why and the wherefore, and in reality not knowing their own minds… (Fun trivia: Brendan Fehr’s character in Roswell quotes a version of this fantastic line in the episode 285 South)

theres nothing else its all very fine for them but as for being a woman as soon as youre old they might as well throw you out in the bottom of the ash pit.

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