“I’ve put in so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant, and that’s the only way of insuring one’s immortality.”
Joyce was not being self-deprecating, facetious, or disparaging in any way when he said this about the allusions and themes of Ulysses. It’s a deep book.
With most literature, when you want to convey the essence somebody about a poem, essay, book, or whatever, the best way to do it is describe the plot, the characters, the setting, perhaps throw in a neat tidbit about some clever allusion or why the author writes like this.
Not with Ulysses.
I read the book. Well, not true. I deciphered the book, or, rather, tried to decipher what I could, which was most of it, but at times it was like reading while half-asleep; the letters were on the page, they made words, I could say the words aloud, and identify the subject and verbs of the sentences, but any ideas the words may have carried was lost on me. Repeating the plot to you would not be much better for you than the book was for me at times.
To understand Ulysses, you have to understand Joyce, his style of writing, and the themes and parallels of the book, which is what I’m focusing on. I could go and write out an abridged synopsis of the book, but it wouldn’t help, would add far too much text, and I’d probably get it wrong.