When you mention banned books, a lot of people tend to think about the great classics of literature which, for one reason or another, have suffered from censorship at some point during their publication. This is somewhat unfortunate, as the emphasis on banned classics can overshadow the challenges faced by books currently being published which are censored and do not have the advantage of being a “classic” to support their placement in libraries and schools. #itsaproblem
That being said, I have to confess that this week’s feature, Ulysses by James Joyce, is a banned classic, and I would say it’s probably my favorite banned book as well. So much for practicing what I preach. Anyhow, here are five reasons why Ulysses is one of my all-time favorite books:
- The irrepressible Leopold Bloom. He is such a great character. In fact he inspired such a great fan following, the holiday celebrating Joyce’s life and writings is named after him: Bloomsday (June 16).
- It’s basically fanfiction (and I love fanfiction). The book is modelled after Homer’s Odyssey—a modern Irish retelling of Homer. If you’ve ever read a fanfic where fandom characters are somehow transported to a modern day AU, you’re familiar with the type. I don’t intend that as an insult by any means—and they do say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
- Trial by fire. Our very own US Post Office burned copies of Ulysses on grounds of indecency. I think it’s safe to say that Ulysses was ultimately unscathed.
- Welcome to Weird Town. Joyce mastered his esoteric style with Finnegans Wake, but his knack for being obscure as a fashion statement is already evident in Ulysses. There’s enough plot and substance that is difficult but far from impossible to get through Ulysses. It certainly is strange at times, however.
- Haters gonna hate. Taylor Swift was far from the first to make the observation that the haters are going to keep on hating, In fact, the irrepressible Leopold Bloom (for which see #1) was the victim of haters hatin’ on several occasions throughout Joyce’s novel.
How it got published: Emerged triumphant from the flames
Rating: A timeless classic
Review finished: November 11, 2019
Review posted: November 14,2019