1. haribol
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    haribol Member

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    Should we idealize the style of James Joyce?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by haribol, Feb 13, 2013.

    I was told be simple and never use big words when small do. Wrte simple sentences and do not use cliches and be straight in your style not curved.

    But when i read Ulysses I was taken aback when I came across complicated sentence structures, strange and indigestible word, allusions, and the like and. He structured sentences and paragraphs intricately and though I hvhave made a number of endeavors to read his books they appeared inconceivable to me and fnally I gave reading his books and turned to Dostoevsky. I read a number of his books and stories and his style, philosophy, themes were far better than James Joyce. I may agree James could be linguistically or stylistically a better writer, and pedantic knowldge and yet the way the Brothers Karnazov touched me Ulusses could not and in a while I feel nauseated while reading Ulusses and now I have given up on that writer no matter how critics all over the world is keeping heaps of reward on him.

    These days i choose to live following a simple course of life and I hate difficult books and any books i come upon must be simple and must not be incomprehensible to me. i admired Shakespeare, Milton and hordes of classical writers but they have little space in today' s world
     
  2. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    'idealize', why not? 'Imitate', NNNNNNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

    James Joyce is great for a very good reason, no one will ever again be exactly like him. It is better to learn than to copy.
     
  3. Pyraeus
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    Pyraeus Member

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    I have never read his books and, if I did, I ,might possibly agree with you but, judging from the way you worded your review of him, along with Lemex's comment, he seems to have a very unique style. I think I'll have to go have a look at some of his things...
     
  4. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Who told you this? I agree with the statement for writing reports, emails, etc. But I don't agree that it should be that way in fiction. For example, let's say Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita had been written in a "simple" style without any "big words." It would lose its effect and certainly wouldn't be the great novel that it is.

    Joyce isn't for everyone. In a way, he's an acquired taste. A lot of people dislike Ulysses, so you aren't alone in that regard. That being said, if you like Dostoevsky, good for you. He's always a good choice.

    I disagree. Such writers are famous and widely read for a reason. People don't read them because they wrote a certain way but because what they wrote still applies today.
     
  5. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I actually missed this.

    How is Shakespeare or Milton not relevant any more? Shakespeare is all about people in different situations, and Milton's Paradise Lost is the story of a failed revolution. They are stories for all time so long as people remain people.
     
  6. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I agree with Lemex. Joyce did things with prose nobody else had ever done, and by doing so he staked out the farthest boundaries of what's possible in English. I don't like everything he wrote, but that's to be expected when a writer aims high. Joyce aimed higher than anyone else I've ever read, and he hit his target remarkably often.

    Few writers have imitated Joyce (Samuel Beckett and Flann O'Brien are the only two I can think of off the top of my head), but many have been influenced by him in varying degrees.

    I appreciate and celebrate Joyce's accomplishments. I'm glad he wrote as he did and I've learned a lot from him. He opened my mind to the idea that prose can do much more than simply convey basic information. But I don't write like he did.
     
  7. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    The heaventree of stars hung with humid nightblue fruit. - Ulysses - James Joyce.

    How could you not love lines like this?

    Even if he's not for everyone, I think if the writing world can idealize Stephen King, James Joyce
    deserves his spotlight. Though I have to admit, I couldn't slog through Finnegan's Wake.

    As for Shakespeare and Milton and others - the core of their characters and themes are still
    relevant for today though their language seems bewildering.

    I think everyone who wants to challenge their writing style should take the challenge
    of reading something that hey, confuses you a little, shakes you up a bit.
     
  8. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    My favorite sentence from Ulysses actually describes a pretty gruesome scene - the body of a drowned man being recovered. The sentence is: "Hauled stark over the gunwale he breathes upward the stench of his green grave, his leprous nosehole snoring to the sun."

    I wish I could write like that. Actually, I probably could, if I was willing to work over my sentences as much as Joyce did his.
     
  9. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    My favorite bit of Ulysses is where Stephen and Bloom get drunk in Dublin's red light district and the novel turns into a sort of play. I've never known a novel to so accurately show the thought process when drunk as Ulysses did.

    That and I loved Stephen's lecture on Shakespeare, because I'm a weirdo. :p
     
  10. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I can't say what my favorite part was, but I will say that the last chapter was brutal. I don't remember there being any punctuation at all, so it was like reading a very, very long sentence.
     
  11. Pheonix
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    Pheonix A Singer of Space Operas and The Fourth Mod of RP Staff Contributor

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    I think I'm gonna read Ulysses now... :D

    Thanks for the inspiration everyone!
     
  12. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Just remember, not one of us has said it's easy. But I'm sure people will agree it is worth it.
     
  13. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Yeah, it's difficult, and I would suggest using a guide of some sort. I also highly recommend reading his earlier works first (there are only two of them, Dubliners and Portrait of an Artist).
     
  14. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    That's probably a good idea. Fortunately, both of those works (especially Dubliners) are much easier to read than Ulysses. (And Ulysses is much easier than Finnegans Wake. Finnegans Wake is probably the most difficult novel ever written in English - if that odd language it's written in can be called English.)
     
  15. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Yes, whatever you do avoid Finnegan's Wake! - it reads like an Alien's guide book to alternate dimensions
     
  16. Pheonix
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    Pheonix A Singer of Space Operas and The Fourth Mod of RP Staff Contributor

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    Thanks for the tips! :)
     
  17. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I can only add what I found of The Wake. Yeah, I love Joyce and that is the only thing of his I've not read, simply because I can't. I'm not sure what it's written in can really be called English. I've heard of one group who read it together and it took them 13 years.
     
  18. Bimber
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    Bimber Contributing Member

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    found this dunno if it was really James Joyce reading it but it sure sounds alien!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JtOQi7xspRc
     
  19. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    haribol...
    one can admire/enjoy the writings of exalted authors from earlier decades/centuries, or hate them... but if you want to write for today's markets, you need to write in a style that will be acceptable to today's readers...

    i didn't care to read past the first page of joyce's massive, supposedly 'important' work... and i certainly would never urge anyone wanting to be a writer to 'idolize' [which is what i think you meant] him for his overblown verbiage and/or emulate him...
     
  20. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    This is fine advice as far as it goes, but don't make the mistake of assuming that all readers form one monolithic block. There are many different kinds of readers and they are looking for different things in a novel. There's still an eager audience for experimental "art" novels out there. Of course, it's not as big an audience as J.K. Rowling's or Stephanie Meyer's or John Grisham's, but it's there.
     
  21. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Amen to that!
     
  22. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    if that 'don't make the mistake' was aimed at me, i certainly did not mean to imply all readers like the same thing, which would be ridiculous...

    that said, a new and unknown writer is not likely to get a publisher to accept something that will appeal to only a very small percentage of book buyers, since they're in business to make money, not history... so, if you want to try something that different that is aimed at such a small number of book buyers, it would behoove you to wait till you're well-known enough to get your laundry list on the ny times bestseller list...
     

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