In the Eye of the Beholder

Tim Cavanaugh sums up some of the reactions Ulysses still gets:

Ulysses recently has drawn the fire of literary iconoclasts. “I will say it once and for all, straight out: it all went wrong with James Joyce,” writes the dyspeptic critic Dale Peck, who condemns the book’s “diarrheic flow of words” and applauds himself for having spoken “heresy” against a canonical work. “Ulysses could have done with a good editor,” the acclaimed novelist Roddy Doyle recently told an audience of crestfallen Joyce fans. “You know, people are always putting Ulysses in the top 10 books ever written, but I doubt that any of those people were really moved by it.” Concludes the writer Stefan Sullivan in a recent Washington Times appreciation: “Ulysses is a pretty awful novel.”

One critic even calls it a ‘giant fart joke,’ which made me feel somewhat better for having never managed to finish the tome. I’ve always been slow in ‘getting’ fart jokes.