Magazine article Risk Management

James Joyce Meets ERM

Magazine article Risk Management

James Joyce Meets ERM

Article excerpt

June is not a big month for holidays in the United States. Sure there is Flag Day and Father's Day, but those don't even merit a day off of work. June does contain the first day of summer, which is particularly great if you are a student looking forward to two months of vacation, but that's about it. Unless you consider June 16.

For the literary minded, June 16 is Bloomsday, a day that commemorates the life of Irish writer James Joyce and coincides with the date that events take place in his most famous novel, Ulysses. The name is derived from Leopold Bloom, the main protagonist in the book, and on that day there are performances, readings and parties around the world to celebrate what many consider to be the greatest book ever written. It's pretty impressive. After all, aside from the Bible, how many books inspire their own holiday?

I'm an avid reader and I have long been aware of Ulysses' lofty reputation. The Modern Library's list of the best English-language novels of the 20th century, which I actually used to carry with me in case I was ever in a bookstore and at a loss for what to buy, ranked Ulysses number one. And despite having read as many of those classics as possible, Ulysses still eludes me. It is not for lack of trying, however. The truth is I have started the book at least three separate times and never gotten past the first 100 pages, mainly because by that point I'm usually thoroughly confused.

Ulysses is a notoriously challenging novel that frequently uses an experimental, stream-of-consciousness style that is very hard to follow for someone who isn't living inside James Joyce's head. This is probably best exemplified by its final section, which contains a supposedly classic run-on sentence that, at 4,391-words-long, once held the title as the longest sentence in English literature. (To give you an idea of how long that is, this column is roughly 700 words.) Joyce himself said that Ulysses includes "so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant."

Of course, I have never gotten close to the end, so I can't tell you if the book lives up to the hype. I mean to find out though. There have been other classics that have taken me multiple attempts to get into--Moby Dick and Atlas Shrugged come to mind--and I have usually found that once I finally tackled them, the experience proved to be worth the initial struggle. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.