In an effort to read a more well-rounded body of literature, I decided a few months ago that one out of every four or five books I read will come from the Modern Library’s List of the 100 Greatest English-Language Novels of the 20th Century. Thus, I decided earlier this month that it was time to tackle some James Joyce. Yikes. A Portrait of the Artist as A Young Man was a difficult read. Even painful, at times. It started off alright, but I got lost somewhere in the midst of one of his 8-page philosophical stream-of-consciousness tangents and never regained my footing again. I had to read some sentences 20 times. Seriously. So I must ask myself the question: am I reading primarily for pleasure, or primarily for literary well-roundedness? Is it possible to do both? Probably. One thing is for sure: the next book I pick of the list will not be Ulysses.

Difficulty aside, I appreciate the simple premise of the novel: it is the story of a boy becoming a man, learning to think for himself, to form his own opinions on religion and nationality and art.  I just wish this simple premise had been expressed in slightly simpler terms…

One Comment

  1. Jason says:

    Sounds painful. The best book that I read to be “well rounded” was Jane Eyre. I thought it would be somewhat painful to get through, but it was nothing but good reading — so maybe give that a shot 🙂