Freitag, 23. August 2013

It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it. Oscar Wilde

James Joyce

What remains after these past 14 days?

First of all the good feeling that I "did" it finally!
Nevertheless, I would lie if I said this was an easy trip: some chapters were really hard and I needed a lot of pauses, discipline and stubbornness to continue. But somehow it flatters my weird ego that I am still able to emerge myself in such an awesome "opus absolutissimum".
As I said, you definitely need some encyclopaedia and still, you cannot look-up everything. At some very early point you just should let it go, because Ulysses is not about understanding every detail (you can leave that to eager scholars!). When you have finally decided to do so you will be astonished: Within Mr. Bloom's microcosm you will discover literature and language at its best.... and you will find out: Ulysses is actually very funny!

For many years Ulysses was thought to be untranslatable. Considering this incredible firework of language, all this playing on words, all these sociolects, all this transforming of words etc., it seems to me that even the best translation can give only a first idea of Joyce's language. Nevertheless, a first - not very successful - German translation was published in 1927, but in the early 70s a new one was made by Hans Wollschläger.

Hans Wollschläger
This brilliant man dedicated 5 entire years of his life to this admittedly extraordinary translation. Hence, it was unavoidable that this German edition was more a huge contribution to western culture than an immediate financial success. Indeed it was calculated afterwards that the first copies should have been sold actually for 400 Marks each to cover the expenses!!!

Again I have to cite Oscar Wilde: “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.”
Ok, reading Ulysses all over again right away would be quite eccentric and probably a suicide attempt!

Since I needed however the help of my laptop from time
to time, I discovered that last year a German audio book
of Ulysses was released: 31 cds, 37 (!) hours, read by
40 German actors! Instead of reading the book again
just hearing might be the perfect solution!

In addition there is a quite new commented edition of Wollschlägers translation on the market, which probably makes an encyclopaedia or the internet quite dispensable. (Some day, after a logical time of "recovering", I will definitely need this edition for a second reading of some enigmatic chapters...).

Anyway, I told my uncomplaining best husband of all both the audiobook and the commented edition would come first on my wishlist for next Christmas. He didn't comment this at all....(maybe until Christmas he will reconsider?!)

After all, it is difficult to recommend a book like this.
But I can tell you one thing: 
                                    if you are a bibliophile and a language addict, just go for it !


Goodbye Mr. Bloom, I am done !