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  • morganfagg

65 Days Left

Updated: Nov 4, 2022

65 Days to go and it is not going so well. Where am I?

There are (or at least were when I penned this draft) 65 days to go but how well is it going? To be honest, not well and that is the reality of trying to read Ulysses. It is challenging and even though I have read about 500 pages so far and Ulysses is only about 750 pages, I am only on page 250 after re-reading many pages twice and losing where I was and having to go back to the start of the page or that of the previous page.

It is hard to know when one chapter ends and the next one begins and it is only from following the Bloomsday Society in Madrid and their monthly readings that I have a clue of what the chapters are.

250 pages into the book and I dont even know which chapter I am on. Come on, seriously?

Following James Joyce isn't always easy and my great plan of reading several pages a day, for 100 days has been abandoned for reading what I can, when I can.

I would need to read ten pages a day to finish Ulysses in time but here’s the thing, if I only read 500 pages in time then I will have read 500 pages of one of the most challenging books in the world. Will I manage to churn through more pages over Christmas, I hope so but writing a blog and posting pictures is distracting enough and I probably should have shut my mouth and just opened the book instead. Here I am a couple of months to finish a difficult book that I had hoped to be able to read on public transport in the morning.

We no room on buses, metros and trains, I stand in the aisles listening to Joyce on audiobooks. I finished all 30 hours of Ulysses and loved it, I finished Dracula, Dorian Grey and then Dubliners.

Now I am listening to Colin Farrell narate A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man.

Dubliners and the others are about eight hours long and next up on my list is three hours of Ernest Hemingway´s El Viejo Y El Mar which is the Spanish version of The Old Man And The Sea. I enjoy reading Hemingway and have enjoyed The Old Man And The Sea on audiobook, narrated by Charlton Heston.

I once bought Obama´s Dreams of My Father on audiobook and loved it as it was narrated by the man himself and should have invested in more audiobooks as I have wasted years waiting for trains in Atocha in Madrid. The timetable consistently telling the wrong time as I watched trains coming and going with no regard to the timetable and clocks that moved as slow as the trains.

I call it a "Renfe Minute" where Renfe´s timetable is not grounded in reality but what can only be regarded as time travelling as trains that are due to arrive in one minute might not arrive for seven minutes but the timetable doesn’t reflect the clear delay as one minute can last 420 seconds and on one occasion a train arrived with eight minutes left on the clock and time to take a picture of it.

The point being, public transport sucks and I have no idea how I am meant to maintain a safe distance with 25 people crammed into the aisle of a bus and queues in Moncloa that can go all the way up a stairs to the waiting area above.

It's incredible really how piss poor things can sometimes run in the 21st Century and how crowded public transport is during a pandemic.

Joyce doesn't touch upon the 1918 pandemic as his book was published in 1922 but set in 1904 and I sometimes find it hard to imagine how they managed 100 years ago.

Audiobooks allow you to enjoy Joyce’s world without worrying too much about the time it takes to get around, and even when walking around Madrid, I have enjoyed listening to Ulysses and Dubliners as I moved about the city and am reminded of a comment made in Crazy Mary’s Liberia at An Evening With Joyce in October, when Maria Correas described how Joyce wrote about Dublin but meant it to be a universal city and that the characters and events could be set in any city.

It certainly explains the universal appeal for Joyce when I look at all the pictures that have been sent to me from around the world.

I can´t image how anyone was able to translate Joyce into their own language and how translators were able to interpret his language and style into their own idiom.

Remember Ulysses was published around the time that Betty White was born which was a long long time ago and just like everyone’s favourite Golden Girl, Joyce is still entertaining people around the world even though there was no internet, online translators, spell checkers or any fancy tools to help Joyce as he wrote page after page, sometimes having to resort to using crayons when his eyesight failed him.

Today, we can enjoy Ulysses as a book, abridged or unabriged or as an audiobook or online through the where references are explained at a click of link.

With modern technology, now is the time to enjoy Joyce and sometimes I wish that I had bought an annotated book or added my own notes as I went through it. You may want to try an abridged version or an unabridged version but for now I am happy with my Wordsworth Classics version with a picture of the Ha´penny Bridge on the cover.

I will discuss a fantastic abridged version you can find online that suggests you can read Ulysses in under an hour. Naturally, I will try and find the time to test this theory and share the results in a future blog.

Supported by

UNESCO City of Literature

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