House of Ulysses Paperback – Nov 9 2010
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"Julian Rios's texts are very important... they are an assimilation of the most radical traditions." Octavio Paz "Rios provides a neat compression of much academic insights, crammed into a small, portable, and accessible companion... The essential function of 'The House of Ulysses' is to direct our gaze away from its own pages. Holding a guidebook, we learn. Then we put it down, to look up (or down) again at its own inspiration." -New York Journal of Books "Thoughtful, humorous and intriguing reading expertly translated by Nick Caistor, 'The House of Ulysses' is a core pick for any world literature collection." The Midwest Book Review "A festive, creative, and highly original manipulation of a famous text; highly rewarding for those who appreciate participatory readings and intertextual relationships." Library Journal "...'The House of Ulysses' is an engaging resource and a brilliant testament to the wonderful confusion and debate that Ulysses so frequently inspires." -Irish American Magazine
About the Author
Julia?n Ri?os is Spain's foremost post- modernist writer. After co-authoring two books with Octavio Paz, Ri?os went on to write numerous works of fiction and nonfiction, including "Larva, Poundemonium, Loves That Bind", and "Monstruary", all of which have been published in English translation. He lives in Paris.
Nick Caistor is a former BBC Latin America analyst and the author of "Octavio Paz", also published by Reaktion Books.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
It offers an easy pace and conveys information with an affectionate tone. Nick Caistor's smooth translation reveals few quotable lines from Ríos in what for English-speakers becomes a tertiary source, but the structure of first a summation of each chapter's contents and then "passageways" that list a few observations made by the four (or one silent, five) observers in the Museum allows, in relatively few pages, a quick guided tour through its contents.
Especially for those fearful of more scholarly treatments of Ulysses, Ríos provides a neat compression of much academic insights, crammed into a small, portable, and accessible companion. Not only beginners may benefit with Ríos as a guide. Study of this novel, as I was warned in college, can happily consume one's spare time over a lifetime. In House, I learned a dozen fresh insights about the novel.
This book failed to rise or fall to parody. It's not as funny as the advance buzz makes it out to be, but it does introduce a hesitant reader to its mysteries, if in a more sober tone than I expected. While marketed as a send-up of the scholarship surrounding Joyce, it serves rather to document and transmit its findings efficiently. Ríos does adapt, as with "Aeolus," "Nausicaa," "Eumaeus," and "Penelope," the styles of the prose that Joyce celebrated and caricatured. Ríos's own take on the Joyce industry may be less "slapstick" than the promotional material promises; I found its delivery rather steady. As any critic of Joyce without a sense of humor has found the wrong text to explore over a lifetime, the offhand remarks made sporadically by Ríos's team of academically bent visitors were rather anodyne, on par with anyone who has lived and slept with, as one does, this text over any period of time.
Therefore, this fictional conceit fits better as a friendly, if a bit garrulous, companion. Any work that reminds us of the mastery and mystery of this modernist masterful "mistresspiece" succeeds in this measure. The essential function of The House of Ulysses is to direct our gaze away from its own pages. Holding a guidebook, we learn. Then we put it down, to look up (or down) again at its own inspiration. (P.S. See my reviews of David Pierce's "Reading Joyce" and Declan Kiberd's "Ulysses & Us" for two recent, if more academic, commentaries worth your while.)