Why should you read James Joyce’s “Ulysses”? – Sam Slote

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James Joyce’s “Ulysses” is widely considered to be both a literary masterpiece and one of the hardest works of literature to read. It inspires such devotion that once a year, thousands of people all over the world dress up like the characters, take to the streets, and read the book aloud. So what is it about this novel that inspires so many people? Sam Slote uncovers the allure of this epic tome.

Lesson by Sam Slote, directed by Paper Panther.

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Comments 37

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  1. This is my dad's favorite book. Originally I was unsure if I would ever read it or not, but now I definitely will. Thanks, TED-Ed!

  2. People ALWAYS say what a difficult novel this is to read, (that may be true of Finnigans Wake) a lot of it maybe most is in everyday speech,about Blooms thoughts and actions as he wanders around Dublin,and you could ,at least on first reading, skip the difficult chapters.and still enjoy it.

  3. "Pick up a copy…" Well, being a Mick meself, I picked two copies of Ulysses… but the second was no better than the first.

  4. Read Catch 22 all Joseph Heller, Dickens, Shakespeare, the Bible, the Koran, you name it, cover to cover. Then I tried 'Ulysses'. I tried and tried and tried and tried and tried.
    One night with the book in my lap determined not to give up sitting by the fireplace with a glass of red, it hit me.
    I will never place this book back on the shelf to remind me once again
    I had failed when others had not.
    Into the flames it went, free, free at last. Sorry old Jim, nobody can say I didn't try.

  5. I like these videos because they give me reason to read these books. After watching the "Why you should read War and Peace"video I bought and read War and Peace, and quite enjoyed it!

  6. As John Ralston Saul wrote in "Voltaire's Bastards" regarding "Ulysses": "There's a lot of fly food in Ulysses and it was put there for the flies." His footnote says he's quoting someone: "This phrase belongs to someone else. The American writer Stanley Crouch will know who." Maybe I'll read the book some day, maybe I won't. Still I thank you, Mr. Slote for outlining what I've missed for the last half-century, and may well contentedly go on missing for whatever further decades I am destined to live out.

  7. I am tempted to publish a youtube video titled "Why you shouldn't read James Joyce's 'Ulysses.'" Classic and modern literature is bursting with great works. Sorry Joyce fans but I'm not going to invest that much time in any one of them when I could have enjoyed five or six in the time it would take to slog through Ulysses. I own a copy and I've thumbed through it and read a few passages– that's enough for me! I've enjoyed Faulkner and Woolf immensely, but Joyce is just too tedious. Some seem to make a career out of the reading and discussing of this voluminous work. I actually met a Brit who had read Ulysses four or five times but had never read The Lovesong of J Alfred Prufrock or anything by Italo Calvino!

  8. The only way I managed to get through Ulysses was by not trying to make sense of it, and just reading, after a while it does draw you in. Putting the effort in to really understand it first time round just makes it tedious work.

Why should you read James Joyce’s “Ulysses”? – Sam Slote