Thursday Tea (June 16): A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

The book: Today is Bloomsday and I am celebrating by reading A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (although technically I should be reading Ulysses). The last time I tried to read Portrait was about…three years ago? And I only got halfway. Not because it was bad, or because I didn’t understand it, but because I was reading it for a two week-long James Joyce class and that’s not enough time to really absorb Joyce’s books. I was kind of in a James Joyce overload, basically, and so I didn’t finish Portrait.

Anyway, I know some people are nervous about reading Joyce, just like I was nervous when I first started reading modern books[1]. So here are some strategies for reading Joyce[2]:

1. Start with something small and work your way up. Or start big and just go for it. With Joyce, starting off with his short story collection Dubliners is a good idea. It’ll get you used to some of his writing techniques while not being overwhelmed by the more experimental ones. Or, if you’re feeling reckless, start with Ulysses. Because why not?
2. Get a copy with annotations or footnotes. They’ll come in handy for some of the slang/weirder passages. However, DON’T pay too much attention to them. Just know they’re there to be used if you need them, but don’t actually go flipping back there to check on every note. It’ll distract you from the story.
2b. Likewise, know that there’s summaries and whatnot on sites like Sparknotes, but don’t actually read them. That’s cheating, and it sucks all the fun out of it, besides.
3. Don’t worry too much about understanding everything in the first read. Just try to absorb as much as you can, enjoy yourself, and worry about complete understanding later.

Do you have any tips for successfully reading a Joyce book?

The tea: As it is Bloomsday, and as Joyce was Irish (duh), I am drinking Super Irish Breakfast tea, the only Irish tea I have in my cupboard. It’s quite good! Like English breakfast but on steroids.

Do they go together? Yup! (Do I really need to explain this more?)

Other tea drinkers

Whitney is reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and drinking Newman’s Own Organic Green Tea!

Alison is reading The Book Thief and drinking Earl Grey Lavender Tea!

(Leave a link to your TT post in the comments and I’ll add you to the tea drinkers list!)

Footnotes
1. Should that be capitalized? Modern Books. Joyce is Modern, right? I can’t remember. All my learning is slowly draining out of me; four and a half years spent in school and all I have to show for it is a better collection of books. BACK
2. Or other modern authors. Modern Authors. Whatever. BACK

6 thoughts on “Thursday Tea (June 16): A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man”

    1. Which is why I always drink mine sitting in front of a fan! But yeah, iced tea is better in the summer, even with AC/fans/etc.

    1. Is he? He wrote around the same time as all the other modern authors, I think. I honestly don’t even really care any longer, but it’d be nice to have retained SOMETHING from school.

    1. No need to be afraid! Just think of it like a weird carnival ride, or something. The experience throws you off for a little bit, but by the end you’ll probably be enjoying yourself.

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