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View Poll Results: What’s the best chapter of James Joyce’s Ulysses
Telemachus, the one with the tower and the key 0 0%
Nestor, the one with students and headmasters 0 0%
Proteus, the one with the beach and a stream of consciousness 1 7.14%
Calypso, the one with the kidney and the letter 1 7.14%
Lotus Eaters, the one with another letter and lemon soap 0 0%
Hades, the one with the funeral and the racing tip 0 0%
Aeolus, the one with the headlines and cow’s disease 0 0%
Lestrygonians, the one with lunch and the museum 0 0%
Scylla and Charybdis, the one with Shakespeare and some other writers 0 0%
Wandering Rocks, the one with the viceroy and lots of other people 0 0%
Sirens, the one with whores and cadences 2 14.29%
Cyclops, the one with hyperbole and the biscuit tin 0 0%
Nausicaa, the one with romance and fireworks 0 0%
Oxen of the Sun, the one with the birth of a child and of English literature 0 0%
Circe, the one with metamorphoses and stage directions 0 0%
Eumaeus, the one with fatigue and the sailor 0 0%
Ithaca, the one with questions and answers 2 14.29%
Penelope, the one with the woman and the yes 5 35.71%
They’re all pretty bad 3 21.43%
Voters: 14. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 04-03-2013, 04:50 PM   #1
pynch
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James Joyce’s Ulysses: best chapter?

I’m sure we all agree about James Joyce’s Ulysses being the best novel ever written, but there seems to be some controversy (some of it here) about which chapter is the best. So I’ve set up a poll to determine once and for all which one’s the best, the most beautiful, the most insightful, the most most episode of this book.

It’s not multiple choice, because there can only be one.
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Old 04-03-2013, 07:39 PM   #2
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And which did he consider the best chapter?

The one with the questions and the answers, for many reasons, not the least being passages of awe-inspiring beauty such as this:

Quote:
What spectacle confronted them when they, first the host, then the guest, emerged silently, doubly dark, from obscurity by a passage from the rere of the house into the penumbra of the garden?
The heaventree of stars hung with humid nightblue fruit.

With what meditations did Bloom accompany his demonstration to his companion of various constellation?
Meditations of evolution increasingly vaster : of the moon invisible in incipent lunation, approaching perigee : of the infinite lattiginous scintillating uncondensed milky way, discernible by daylight by an observer placed at the lower end of a cylindrical vertical shaft 5000 ft deep sunk from the surface towards the centre of the earth : of Sirius (alpha in Canis Major) 10 lightyears (57, 000, 000, 000, 000 miles) distant and in volume 900 times the dimension of our planet : of Arcturus : of the precession of equinoxes : of Orion with belt and sextuple sun theta and nebula in which 100 of our solar systems could be contained : of moribund and of nascent new stars such as Nova in 1901 : of our system plunging towards the constellation of Hercules : of the parallax or parallactic drift of socalled fixed stars, in reality evermoving from immeasurably remote eons to infinitely remote futures in comparison with which the years, threscore and ten, of allotted human life formed a parenthesis of infinitesimal brevity.

Were there obverse meditations of involution increasingly less vast?
Of the eons of geological periods recorded in the stratifications of the earth : of the myriad minute entomological organic existences concealed in cavities of the earth, beneath removable stones, in hives and mounds, of microbes, germs, bacteria, bacilli, spermatozoa : of the incalculable trillions of billions of millions of imperceptible molecules contained by cohesion of molecular affinity in a single [p.652] pinhead : of the universe of human serum constellated with red and white bodies, themselves universes of void space constellated with other bodies, each, in continuity, its universe of divisible component bodies of which each was again divisible in divisions of redivisible component bodies, dividends and divisors ever diminishing without actual division till, if the progress were carried far enough, nought nowhere was never reached.
The chapter also contains practical advice that changed my life:

Quote:
What advantages attended shaving by night?
A softer beard : a softer brush if intentionally allowed to remain from shave to shave in its agglutinated lather : a softer skin if unexpectedly encountering female acquaintances in remote places at incustomary hours : quiet reflections upon the course of the day : a cleaner sensation when awaking after a fresher sleep since matutinal noises, premonitions and perturbations, a clattered milkcan, a postman’s double knock, a paper read, reread while lathering, relathering the same spot, a shock, a shoot, with thought of aught he sought though fraught with nought might cause a faster rate of shaving and a nick on which incision plaster with precision cut and humected and applied adhered which was to be done.
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Old 04-03-2013, 09:33 PM   #3
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The best chapter is Penelope. (As everybody knows)

Because women have a voice, too..

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Old 04-04-2013, 05:00 AM   #4
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Thank you for the detailed list of chapters. I found out that the scene with the dog on the beach is in the third chapter, not the first as I thought. And it reminded me of some stuff I had forgotten.

I voted for Penelope of course, because there was a distinct lack of female voices until then and because it's beautiful and poignant. I guess my order of preference would be:

1- Penelope
2- Proteus
3- I'm not sure, there was a lot of good stuff and some rather boring (didn't like Scylla and Charybdis nor Sirens)
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Old 04-06-2013, 05:18 AM   #5
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more questions than answers

Three days, three replies, six votes, neither trending on Twitter nor slowing the internet down ... What’s wrong?

Of course I’m not really surprised by the lack of participation here, but—apart from being interested in which episodes you like more than others—I would also like to hear why it seems to be difficult to vote or comment.

Forcing people to opt for only one of the chapters might have been wrong—for most of the novels I love I wouldn’t be able or willing to name a favourite chapter either—and it might not be silly enough for ‘inutterably silly’, but is it possible that Ulysses is still regarded as that towering monument you think you have to talk seriously about? It’s difficult, sure, but it’s also one of the funniest novels around (Tristram Shandy for me being a close second), and the sheer beauty of the writing helps to sustain interest over the more obscure passages.

I think it’s interesting that the Proteus episode is highly regarded by those who have read the whole damn thing (including me), while—judging from what I’ve heard—it’s also the episode where those who try their luck for the first time stop reading.

So, any thoughts? About what’s best—or worst—or why you just don’t care?
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Old 04-06-2013, 08:09 AM   #6
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I think Proteus was the chapter that decided my outlook on the whole book. Before that, frankly I was reading because I had decided to read that book and I knew it was a classic, but I wasn't hooked. Proteus is probably the reason why I kept reading when the reading got, to be honest, boring. And when I got to that last chapter, I knew I had been right to keep reading.
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Old 04-06-2013, 01:59 PM   #7
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I liked Ithaca & the last chapter, too, but voted for the Bloom takes a dump chapter. Other favourites are when Bloom goes to a funeral and has lunch.
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Old 04-18-2013, 10:27 AM   #8
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