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Monday, June 14, 2010

James Joyce in Technicolor

I was perusing the New Yorker Bookbench last week when I came across something astonishing found in a post from June 3, No Buck Naked on the iPad by Macy Halford. The post talks about the new iPad app for an internet comic and how creator, Robert Berry, was forced to change his illustrations in order to comply with strict Apple "decency" standards (The New York Times even picked up the story this weekend).  While the post is an interesting look at censorship and the new "clean" Apple ideal; even more fascinating is the comic itself.  It's a graphic adaptation of James Joyce's Ulysses.  The comic, Ulysses "Seen", has been an ongoing internet project since 2008.  I've only tried once to read the massive tome but this website with its beautiful drawings, interesting analysis, insights, opinions, and most importantly, reader's guide- just might make me pick it up again.

In addition to the comic, presented in serialized form as the novel originally was, each episode contains a link to the reader's guide written by Mike Barsanti.  For any of the many times the text wanders into other languages, simply roll over it with your mouse and its translation appears.  And there's also a blog with room for questions and comments from readers.

Altogether it's a grand undertaking and beautifully executed.  No doubt some may claim that taking this monumental piece of literature and in a way simplifying it, providing instantaneous analysis, and a virtual translator, takes away from the struggle that makes reading the novel such an accomplishment.  But I say, whatever opens up a book like Ulysses; makes it more accessible to an audience wanting to read it, but not quite able to on their own (someone like me)- I think that must be a good thing.  In fact, I may just buy my hard copy of Ulysses today and dive right in!  Perhaps this year I will finally be celebrating Bloomsday in proper form.

Posted by Erin

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