The Irish Times view on Ulysses at 100: how to monetise James Joyce

The great novel must be shortened and updated to reflect modern Ireland’s tourist proposition

A few judicious edits, starting with that 4,000-word final sentence, could cut Ulysses in half at little cost to the non-existent plot. Photograph: Culture Club/Getty Images

A few judicious edits, starting with that 4,000-word final sentence, could cut Ulysses in half at little cost to the non-existent plot. Photograph: Culture Club/Getty Images

 

Almost 100 years after its publication, James Joyce’s Ulysses has finally attained the recognition it deserves – as Ireland’s premier tourist attraction. State agencies and Irish diplomats around the world are stepping up their marketing campaigns in this centenary year, leveraging Joyce’s novel to boost visitor numbers. This is exactly what Joyce would have wanted. To maximise the book’s selling power, however, some hard decisions must be taken.

For the city-break market, the book’s length is an issue. A few judicious edits, starting with that 4,000-word final sentence, could cut Ulysses in half at little cost to the non-existent plot. “I fear those big words,” says Stephen Daedalus, “that make us so unhappy.” He’s right: remove the big words, starting with honorificabilitudinitatibus. The book’s dramatic climax – “yes I said yes I will Yes” – is actually repetitious and should be replaced with the more elegant “Absolutely”. Only Joyceans will notice these changes. Having officially run out of original things to say about the book in 1992, however, they will feel solemn delight at having new textual arcana to parse.

The bigger problem is that Ulysses fails to reflect modern Ireland’s tourist proposition. Here again tweaks must be considered. Leopold Bloom, an ad man, would be more relatable as a tech founder looking to scale his incredible startup. His Dublin-centric peregrinations should take in a day-trip on the Wild Atlantic Way. In a country of voters who get up early in the morning, the novel’s 8am start is hopelessly out of touch.

Of course, the begrudgers will complain that turning Ulysses into a tourist brochure is the antithesis of Joyce’s vision, that his co-opting by a State that long disdained him is the height of irony, that the commodification of his art is a sadly fitting act in a city where cultural spaces are closing, built heritage is being vandalised, young people cannot afford to live and the needs of the citizen cannot compete with the powerful interests of investment funds, big developers and multinationals. Anyway, let the official celebrations begin!

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.