Reading James Joyce’s modernist masterpiece Ulysses has been on my to-read list since forever, but every time I give it a try, I am stymied by the author’s endless in-jokes and references to Irish popular culture circa 1904.
But I’m giving it another go now that I’ve discovered Irish author Frank Delaney’s podcast Re: Joyce (website, feed). Delaney talks about the novel line by line in 5-minute chunks. His dramatic readings make the text come alive, and his spirited commentary gives me the background I’ve always needed.
In the first podcast, labeled Episode 0, Delaney explains why he is doing this project. “For the sheer fun of it. Because this is a book that has engrossed and delighted me for most of my adult life and I know the enjoyment to be had from it. And I also know that this enjoyment has been denied to many, many people who would read Ulysses if they weren’t so daunted by it. Indeed, who tried to read it and had to give up. How do I know this? Because I was one of them.”
Delaney has been doing the once weekly podcast since June 2010, and it took him a year to finish the book’s first chapter. At this rate he’ll make it to the end of the novel sometime in 2039. That’s a tad slow, but I figure that if I make it through the first chapter with Delaney’s help, I may be able to do the rest on my own.
For more on Re: Joyce, check out this NPR story from this past June. Also, you can get a free electronic copy of Ulysses from Project Gutenberg (website). For more resources for book lovers, check out my directory Sites for book lovers.