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The Fine Print

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The last English prof I had before I graduated with my BA in English (what can you do?) told us that Ulysses was inspired by Mrs. Joyce giving Joyce a hand under the table at the pub on their first date. I still can't read it.


You have to wonder about tales like that, although not too much, but one does wonder about what a well-bred young man's response to that would have been? A simple thank-you? Reciprocation? I don't know if I'd ever try Ulysses again. I like reading about it, though. Most recently was "The Delighted States" by Adam Thirwell, an impossibly young-looking scholar who writes almost ecstatically about Joyce, Sterne, Flaubert, Tolstoy, all connected in some way with other writers I didn't know about. A fun book.

John Ptak

JEFF: P_und had something very smart to say about Ulysses, but I don't quote him. I doubt too that I could devote time to JJ at this point. Maybe after all of this time there's so much more stuff to get in the way of reading it and understanding it that it just isn't worth the effort and the time. The Thirwell book sounds like something I'd like too and something that I'd probably forget the instant it left the nightstand.

John Ptak

ERIN: I dunno. I don't really understand your reaction.


There's nothing to understand in Erin's reaction, although it made me smile. We could dissect it, try to explicate it, wonder if it meant that the Prof's little story about the first date was meant to provoke interest sufficient to read the entire novel, or wonder if the Prof was tired and sarcastically dismissing the novel, or wonder if Erin was aware of either or both of these possibilities, or wonder if Erin should be read with or without irony, or wonder if Erin likes Molly Bloom's soliloquoy, and if so, wonder if Erin is a girl or a boy, or ... wait ... John, is this what you mean by not understanding? Well, still, it made me smile.

John Ptak

Jeff: honestly, none of those six points occurred to me. The statement just got "all muddy" in my head. But Ive got to say that this way of getting your head wrapped around a question is what makes you a great librarian. And just about anything else. Now I'd like to hear from Erin....

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