At our June 16 meeting, we’ll have the honor of hosting Professor Christine Froula from Northwestern. Professor Froula teaches interdisciplinary modernism, nineteenth- and twentieth-century literature and theory, feminist and gender theory, contemporary women artists, and the Western European literary tradition. She’ll be our authoritative voice on Joyce.
For anyone who hasn’t yet picked up a copy of Ulysses, Professor Froula recommends the Modern Library edition. If you wish to supplement your reading, she also recommends Don Gifford’s Ulysses Annotated as an indispensable guide. Finally, if you’re ambitious, you may want to take another look at Homer’s Odyssey and Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
I’ll personally be using the Gifford text as I read. The library has a couple copies, one of which is a reference copy and therefore available all the time. Remember that these are just suggestions!
I’ve received several questions about which edition of Ulysses I’m recommending for our group. The answer – pick what works for you. I can tell you that I’ll be using the 1961 Vintage Books edition (pictured left). However, don’t feel obligated to hunt down the same one. Thrift and guilt are the only reasons I’m using it. I made my well-intentioned purchase years ago at a used bookstore, and I don’t feel like spending money on a prettier edition. Additionally, I feel a strange sense of obligation to this old, perhaps never before read copy. Someone’s got to give it a chance to fulfill its purpose in this world. Maybe it will even sprout wings and ascend to the heavens when I finish the last page, or maybe it will simply be content to return to its familiar, dusty spot on my bookshelf.
We’re about a month and a half away from the Bloomsday kickoff of MI:Ulysses. You might have even noticed the signs plastered around Evanston. As you hear more about MI:Ulysses, I can imagine you may have some questions about me, the leader of this book group. I hope my bulleted list answers most of them.
- My name is Karen. I’m a librarian at the Evanston Public Library (EPL) and have been working there since the fall of 2009.
- Although I have led numerous book discussions in the past, I wanted a real challenge – hence, Ulysses.
- I’ve read The Dubliners and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, but I’ve failed at my attempts to read Ulysses, each time thrusting it back in its place on the bookshelf in shame and disgust.
- I have a B.A. in English; therefore, I feel a distinct desire to prove something by finishing Ulysses. Maybe the accomplishment will even make those student loans feel a little more worthwhile.
- I like to bite off more than I can chew by taking on momentous tasks.
- Sometimes I regret taking on those tasks when they get hard or boring, but gosh darn it I’m stubborn, so I’ll finish them one way or another.
Perhaps we share some of the same reasons for wanting to read Ulysses. If there’s one thing I know, however, it’s that I can’t finish it on my own. So, for better or for worse, let’s rely on each other for support as we slog through it.