Why should a young person read Ulysses?

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Rostom Chkheidze


When Miguel de Cervantes created Don Quixote as a parody of Chivalric romance, he, naturally, needed some sort of audacity to overstep the sluggish literary existence, but it was only a writer’s courage.

When Henry Fielding wrote The History of the Adventures of Joseph Andrews as a parody to sentimental novels, of course, he, too needed certain audacity to overstep sluggish literary existence, but again this was only a writer’s courage.

However, when James Joyce created Ulysses – the parody to heroic epic, a writer’s courage was not enough as he had to endure the imminent social and political wrath.

Friedrich Nietzsche had already blazed the trail for him, Franz Kafka and T.S. Eliot.

That was a real risk and he was a real daredevil to write Thus spoke Zarathustra as a manifest of the new epoch as well as a prophecy to the Czech reality where the godless society existed but they would rather hypocritically lie to themselves and be drunk on illusions than face the horrendous reality. The only truth uttered was just in whispers.

And Friedrich Nietzsche had to overcome this whisper and say aloud that something which people concealed even to themselves.

He knew Ireland, and so did Europe and America thanks to the great writers, but if Joyce was to show this world to the West in a way new to them, he had to prove a simple truth with his dramatic and somewhat tragic life, that is: no matter how torn you are from your homeland externally, you can never escape that mysterious force called missing your own roots. It will drag you down, and incapacitate you.

He had a reason not to trust his compatriots and to reproach them for crucifying Charles Parnell instead of fighting along with him to gain independence.

In his short stories and novels, he portrayed that ingratitude, moral declination and spiritual emptiness, hypocrisy and treachery, the urgency for self-reproach and atonement. And if the remnants of the light could finally get through, it had to be through national roots and spirituality as is portrayed in Ulysses with utmost acridness; the novel which had to become one of the trails for humanity to lead them into a new era.

Published: Nov 14, 2022

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