Reading Ulysses

Reading Ulysses has been on my to do list for decades. I have listened to coaches on how to read this complex book, and the best advice was to read it for the words, read it alpine and approach it with joy.

In the past I have read this book with the attitude of a prisoner being forced to break stones into pieces. A should. A must. Branding myself as a failure who can’t get into this so called best book ever written.

Today I read Chapter One and only looked at how many pages to go 8 times. Three young men are in an old fortress that they are renting. A medical student with a big mouth, an Oxford man, and Steven Dedalus who has recently lost his mom.

There is little action. But the detail of the insults and the tension and the snot green sea. Make this remarkable.

And now a second read after research. This chapter is entitled Telemachus – the name of the son of Odysseus. Odysseus left home for war and his ten year journey as a warrior is the epic, Iliad. The Odyssey is the story of his ten year journey home. Some scholars believe that the Odyssey was written by a Mediterranean woman because the voice is feminine. Penelope has been waiting for Odysseus for 20 years and struggles with her aloneness and suitors to replace a presumed dead husband. A woman’s dilema.

Telemachus watched and judged Penelope. Akin to Hamlet.

Ulysses was written in the context of WWI and reflects a longing of a return home. The exhaustion of war and loss. June 16,1904 BLOOMSDAY, the day during which this story happens, is before the war has begun.

Stephen Dedalus is Telemachus. He feels guilty because he would not pray with his dying mother, and she haunts him in his dreams. He thinks about her musty dance cards, beads and fans that were important memories to her, memories gone and forever to be secrets. A spot. A reference to Lady Macbeth. Guilt and regret.

His roommate Buck Mulligan is a chubby medical student and he bullies Dedalus about how he treated his mother while she was dying. Mulligan is dressed in a yellow swirling dressing gown. A clown.


  1. mary beth mcallister says:

    I am never surprised at your next venture Beth. I was thinking of you only minutes ago while reading a story on trafficking. I am not kidding. xo mb

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Beth Klein says:

      Hey MB! I was wondering what you were up to? Xo


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