THERE’S NOT MUCH ELSE TO say about James Joyce’s magnum opus (although some would apply that descriptor to Finnegans Wake) that hasn’t been said, and by greater and more erudite scholars than this reporter: takes place over 24 hours in 1904 Dublin? Check. Semi-autobiographical? Check. Jewish protagonist? Check. A map of Odysseus’ voyage home from Troy to Ithaca? Check. Source of the annual Bloomsday celebration? Check. Bedeviler of censors and Mrs. Grundys the world over? Oh, most definitely check.
I was first drawn to this arguably most inspirational of all novels through the writings of Robert Anton Wilson, who himself authored several pieces on Joyce-in-general and Ulysses-specifically. And why not? The language is beautiful, the neologisms exciting and unaffected, the themes eternal, the detail enchanting. Joyce’s influence in RAW’s work is both subtle and omnipresent, and I decided I had to drink from the motherlode for myself — not only for that reason, but also for wanting to see what all the manymouthed hubbub was all about. Imagine my surprise and delight when I slipped into this:
Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed. A yellow dressinggown, ungirdled, was sustained gently behind him by the mild morning air. He held the bowl aloft and intoned:
—Introibo ad altare Dei.
Nice, right? Read the whole book here: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/4300. Read it now.