Yes this is it. This is the Holy Grail all booksellers look for. James Joyce’s Ulysses. Unlike the stock market the value never goes down, it only goes up. Signed firsts are now kicking around for £100K We all dream of glimpsing the familiar blue paper cover peeking out from the bottom of a box of shite. But we almost never do. The only time we see it, is in the hands of another seller.
Before my present job, I’d only seen it in glass cases, in the last few years I have handled four copies. And you know what? I still can’t read it. but hey that’s just me. I have met people who have read it multiple times. I’ve met people who think it’s the best book ever written. And that’s probably true. I dunno, I haven’t read all the books yet.
The internet has managed to amplify the cult of Ulysses. Everyone who likes it WANTS you to read it, hell they WANT you to love it. There’s a whole Jehovah’s Witness-like vibe from those conversations. Cause if you don’t agree that it’s the best book ever, then you must suck and you obviously know NOTHING about books.
You can have Leopold Bloom’s day dissected in minute detail for those who didn’t get that from reading the book. You can read a page a day. You can have the parallels to Ulysses spelled out for you. HELP IS at hand! there is Ulysses for Dummies. I carry around enough inherited guilt without piling on more from all the books I have not read. I say it’s spinach and I say the hell with it.
One of these days, Norton…
Stephen Greenblatt of Will in the World fame is taking up the daunting mantle of editor of the Norton Anthology of English Literature. He and M. H. Abrams guested on Public Radio’s On Point with Tom Ashbrook today. Well worth the listen. The Norton we all carried around in college was this fat green book filled with prerty words by dead white men, is almost unrecognizable from today’s 2 volume trade paperback, bursting with multiculturalism. To that end, on their themselves have squirrled away all the bits excised to make way for new and improved literature.