Hundred Years Odyssey; Happy Centenary Birthday, Ulysses!


Yes! I am pointing to Ulysses by James Joyce, which has become 100 years old since February, and as I knew it, I thought that this book was enough waiting on the shelf and began to read. I’ve been hesitant to read it until now because I’ve heard it would be challenging, and yet I dared, and it wasn’t that difficult. Even I could read it much easier than some of the recent modern literature that comes to the market! The main point which encouraged me to purchase this Masterwork was the topic of; the Odyssey, the journey we all must go through.

Of course, I must admit that it was a great challenge, without a doubt, and I don’t want to embellish myself here at all. This book is tough, not because of the bad literature (quite the opposite) but because Joice wants the reader to work with it. It is not only a novel; it’s full of symbols, and poems, with various hints and allusions. Once, he uses just a single word to tell a story, and once, a page full of St. names to say another.

Although Dr Jung might say it somehow another way, as he wrote in his essay; Jung and Ulysses
…I read to page 135 with despair in my heart, falling asleep twice on the way. The incredible versatility of Joyce’s style has a monotonous and hypnotic effect. Nothing comes to meet the reader, everything turns away from him, leaving him gaping after it. The book is always up and away, dissatisfied with itself, ironic, sardonic, virulent, contemptuous, sad, despairing, and bitter…”
The whole work has the character of a worm cut in half, that can grow a new head or a new tail as required…This singular and uncanny characteristic of the Joycean mind shows that his work pertains to the class of cold-blooded animals and specifically to the worm family. If worms were gifted with literary powers they would write with the sympathetic nervous system for lack of a brain. I suspect that something of this kind has happened to Joyce, that here we have a case of visceral thinking with severe restrictions of cerebral activity and its confinement to the perceptual processes….

Yes, I admit I feel have been made a fool of. The book would not meet me halfway, nothing in it made the least attempt to be agreeable, and that always gives the reader an irritating sense of inferiority. Obviously, I have so much of the Philistine in my blood that I am naive enough to suppose that a book wants to tell me something, to be understood–a sad case of mythological anthropomorphism projected onto the book!… One should never rub the reader’s nose into his own stupidity, but that is just what “Ulysses” does…All those ungovernable forces that welled up in Nietzsche’s Dionysian exuberance and flooded his intellect have burst forth in undiluted form in modern man. Even the darkest passages in the second part of “Faust”, even “Zarathustra” and, indeed, “Ecce Homo”, try in one way or another to recommend themselves to the public. But it is only modern man who has succeeded in creating reverse, a backside of art that makes no attempt to be ingratiating, that tells us just where we get off, speaking with the same rebellious contrariness that had made itself disturbingly felt in those precursors of the moderns (not forgetting Holderlin) who had already started to topple the old ideals… (from

Maybe the difference between Dr Jung and me is that I have some LSD experiences, and he hasn’t! I am not joking! As I continued reading and not gaping on page 135, I noticed that Joyce was trying to take me on a trip, an Odyssey, and it will not be an easy trip.

This book has many characters, though Joyce focuses on two of them; Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom. And I think the central figure is Mr Bloom and his Odyssey; The whole story takes place in one day!

Coincidentally, in between, I watched the movie “Easy Rider“, which I had recorded some days before. (You surely know or at least have heard of it). I once saw it a long ago, in the early seventies on screen, when I was a young man, but I wanted to see it again to find out how I would take it at my present age. It wasn’t so cool like those days, of course. However, I could connect this story to James Joyce’s Ulysses. I just thought that we all may have an Odyssey in our life, and in this movie, these two young men have also been going through their Odyssey, though short, with a sad end.

In any case, Joyce surprised us with a last pointless chapter of about forty pages, which reminded me of an old Persian style of poetry; we call it; Bahre-Tavil. (the long sea!) although, they never got so long!
I couldn’t stop this non-stop reading till to the end.

A fascinating forty pages of fashion, society, relationships, men & women, and love; and stunningly from a woman’s mouth and mind: brilliant!
…I thought again yes and then he asked me if I would say yes to my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down so he could feel my breast all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I will yes!

By the way, Jung admitted that with all the different feelings and those up and down, he admires Joyce justly. He wrote:

Dear Sir,

Your Ulysses has presented the world with such an upsetting psychological problem that repeatedly I have been called in as a supposed authority on psychological matters.

Ulysses proved to be an exceedingly hard nut and it has forced my mind not only to most unusual efforts but also to rather extravagant peregrinations (speaking from the standpoint of a scientist). Your book as a whole has given me no end of trouble and I was brooding over it for about three years until I succeeded to put myself into it. But I must tell you that I’m profoundly grateful to yourself as well as to your gigantic opus because I learned a great deal from it. I shall probably never be quite sure whether I did enjoy it because it meant too much grinding of nerves and of grey matter. I also don’t know whether you will enjoy what I have written about Ulysses because I couldn’t help telling the world how much I was bored, how I grumbled, how I cursed and how I admired. The 40 pages of non-stop run at the end is a string of veritable psychological peaches. I suppose the devil’s grandmother knows so much about the real psychology of a woman, I didn’t.

Well, I just try to recommend my little essay to you as an amusing attempt of a perfect stranger that went astray in the labyrinth of your Ulysses and happened to get out of it again by sheer good luck. At all events, you may gather from my article what Ulysses has done to a supposedly balanced psychologist.

With the expression of my deepest appreciation, I remain, dear Sir,

Yours faithfully,

C. G. Jung

My utmost gratitude goes well to Lewis Lafontaine: Mr Purrington.

Painting by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres Images credits:

11 thoughts on “Hundred Years Odyssey; Happy Centenary Birthday, Ulysses!

  1. This is an excellent essay dear Aladin! Thank you so much for sharing it. I vaguely remember reading this book in my early twenties too and have always loved the central story of The Odessey, written either by an ancient or a contemporary hand. Timeless, is a great description. I hope to read it again before I die. Love and light, Deborah.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fabulous post on a book that I won’t read.
    It sounds like a difficult time, and boring according to Jung, and yourself, boring (or lulling) enough to fall asleep.
    I appreciate Jung’s opinion, and respect.
    This opinion is within itself, an intriguing read! xx

    Liked by 1 person

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