Happy Bloomsday! For any who may have missed my prior brief announcement, the next book queued up for a group read here at Infinite Zombies is Ulysses. It’s a book I’ve started and stopped several times, and so from an Infinite Summer/Zombies standpoint, it represents the first book for me in the true spirit of the original program. It’s one I should have read but have never managed. It’s one I just can’t lug myself up the hill of. It’s one I’m still not sure I’ll be able to get through, even with the help of insightful commentary and cheerleading. With the exception of the (by comparison) light reading of Dracula, I had read and enjoyed all the other books we’ve covered to date. Two of them are among my very favorites. So, a year late, I’m finally taking on a book that represents a known and almost dreaded challenge rather than a reread of a loved thing.
Because I think I’m ill-suited to provide adequate context and background for the book, I’ve asked someone else to coordinate this read. I know Judd Staley because we share an interest in the work of David Foster Wallace. Judd comments with some frequency on the wallace-l discussion list, and he was one of the coordinators of this past November’s Footnotes conference devoted to Wallace’s work. When I measured the temperature of wallace-l a few months ago regarding the possibility of a Ulysses read, he enthusiastically expressed an interest, and when I put out a specific call for help more recently, he answered. A doctoral student working on 19th and 20th century fiction, narrative theory, psychoanalysis, aesthetics, affect, Joyce, and Wallace, Judd was a presenter at the 2009 North American James Joyce Conference, and he’s active in the James Joyce Society of New York. So we’re in good hands.
As we wrap up Moby-Dick, you’ll begin seeing overlapping posts from Judd preparing us for Ulysses. He’ll provide information about differences among the varying editions of Ulysses (if you’re in a rush to buy yours, read the bottom of this, but know that Judd will add some color soon), make suggestions regarding supplemental materials, and provide some literary background. Several of us who have blogged other books here at IZ will continue to write about our reading experience.
Just as we leaped straightway into Moby-Dick after finishing up 2666, we’re not taking much of a break before starting Ulysses. The date by which you’ll want to have finished the first chunk of reading is July 12, and this will be an eight-week read. Ulysses has no clearly marked chapter breaks but is divided up informally into episodes (about which presumably more later). This will be something of a pain to track across multiple editions. The weekly assignments and approximate page counts will be as follows:
July 12: Episodes 1-3 (~40 pages)
July 19: Eps 4-6 (~50 pages)
July 26: Eps. 7-9 (~80 pages)
August 2: Eps. 10-12 (~ 100 pages)
August 9: Eps. 13 & 14 (~65 pages; ep. 14 is where a lot of people give up)
August 16: Ep. 15 (~150 pages, but it’s a play, so there’s not that many words per page)
August 23: Eps 16 & 17 (~100 pages)
August 30: Ep. 18 (~35 pages of unpunctuated monologue)
I do hope you’ll join in.