The Noble Pursuit of UBC

UBC stands for “Ulysses Book Club,” as coined by one of my favorite high school English teachers. And this summer, the two of us, along with my mother, are desperately attempting to conquer the behemoth that is James Joyce’s Ulysses. Why would I spend my summer months plugging away at such a substantial piece of literature that is by no means light, poolside reading? Because in the fall, I am taking one of my two junior/senior seminar classes on the book, and I decided that I desperately needed to do some preparation before school began.

The class, “Ulysses and Its Others” will be taught by professor Carole Taylor . It’s a 395 level course, which is terrifyingly high to me. So I’m doing my homework. Early.

The course description:

From its initial banning to the international celebration of Bloomsday, James Joyce’s modernist novel has become a key text for almost every strain of critical and cultural theory and for many subsequent transformations of anti-heroic epic journeys. Students consider the work’s experiments in language, structure, and form in relation to its rich sources, Homer’s Odyssey primary among them. They also examine its legacy of literary provocation for “othered” literary traditions, represented here by Derek Walcott’s Omeros, Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon, and Gerald Vizenor’s Hiroshima Bugi: Atomu 57.

I’m really excited, but also beginning to worry. Since the arrival of a box from Borders this past week with two copies of the book,  I’ve read a total of two pages. Sure, it was a busy week with work. Sure, it was hot and I didn’t have a lot of down time. But I’m on page 4, and there are two title pages. That’s weak.

I’m hoping that my interest in classics will help me get more out of the novel, which mirrors Homer’s Odyssey. My thought is that if I go into the class with at least a basic understanding of the book, I’ll be able to get more our of it, and maybe focus on the critical aspects of the class as well as the other works we will be reading.

You will probably not be surprised to know that this very minute I’m procrastinating reading. I just need a little push to get me into it, and then I’m really crossing my fingers there will be sparks or something that stay with me until the end. Wishful thinking? Maybe. But I also cannot fall short of my promise to read and discuss the book with my mom and my old teacher, especially considering that I am the reason both of them are reading it in the first place…


About nbrouder
I'm a senior at Bates College getting ready for thesis and the real world!

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