Category Archives: history

Ulysses: why is it so hard to finish?

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Recently the world celebrated Bloomsday –  one of the most famous literary holiday. The name is derived from the name of the main character of Joyce’s emblematic novel “Ulysses”. The holiday is a commemoration and celebration of the life of the Irish writer. The events of “Ulysses” are relived during just one day of June 16 in 1904. Joyce chose the date as it was the date of his first outing with his wife-to-be, Nora Barnacle.

 

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And here is the paradox. “Ulysses” is one of the most famous books of the 20th century. The icon. The threshold. Joyce himself is a popular figure, his life being discussed and so many photographs and articles found in the Internet. Yet there are so many people who didn’t manage to finish it or even reach the middle of the book, including those who read it in the translaion to their native language from English.

We searched the Internet for some tips that can help you to read the book and understand the allusions hidden there:

http://www.wikihow.com/Read-Ulysses

http://www.buffalo.edu/news/releases/2004/05/6747.html

https://www.extension.harvard.edu/inside-extension/why-you-should-try-read-ulysses-again

http://www.economist.com/blogs/prospero/2012/06/james-joyces-ulysses

But the most important piece of advice is the approach – look at it as the most exciting adventure and try to find a personal interest. It is a book about love, worries, books and love again – so there should be one! The authors of this article agree with us: https://biblioklept.org/2010/06/16/how-to-read-james-joyces-ulysses-and-why-you-should-avoid-how-to-guides-like-this-one/

Finally, here are some book titles “around” “Ulysses”. If you’re in St. Petersburg, you can borrow these books at the British Book Centre.

Books, mentioned in the novel:

 

Books on the topics of “Odyssey” and traveling, both real and in your mind:

 

Books on Irish history, nature, folklore and mythology:

 

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“Perfect Wives In Ideal Homes”: British women in the 1950s

images“Perfect Wives in Ideal Homes: The Story of Women in the 1950s” by Virginia Nicholson, Viking, 2015

Virginia Nicholson tells the story of women in the 1950s: a time, when divorce spelled scandal, two-piece swimsuits caused mass alarm and the only thing women were expected to do after finishing school, was to get married.

The book reconstructs the real 1950s, through the eyes of the women who lived it. Step back in time to where a shining doorstep was one of the signs of a good housewife leaving in this house, where young smart women just couldn’t imagine they actually had the possibility to enter a college or university and where having a TV set at home was yet a  luxury.

Perfectly structured book with lots of examples of first-person experience and from literature and popular culture.

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Leila Williams, one of the many heroines of the book,  won the 1957 Miss Great Britain title.

Eric Morley, the founder of Miss Great Britain contest, stated very definite parameters for the ideal British beauty:

“…would have to be at least five feet five inches tall (ideally 5 feet 7 1/5 inches), weigh between eight stone ten pounds and nine stone six…”.

But for Leila this was a way of escaping from the environment she didn’t like, working at the pub in Birmingham.

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Donkey stone was a type of scouring block, used mostly in the mill towns of the North of England to clean stone steps. The ‘donkey brand’ was originally the trade mark of a Manchester company called Edward Read & Son, who were one of several makers of the stones. Other companies used other animal designs or simple lettering, but the name ‘donkey stone’ stuck. Donkey stones were first used in textile mills to clean greasy steps, and give them a non-slip finish. However the stones also became popular with housewives who would use them to give doorsteps a decorative finish. Quite often the stones would be given out in exchange for old clothes or scrap metal, by rag totters, or rag and bone men as they were sometimes called.

Learn about other interesting 1950s realities and remarkable women in this captivating book.

Available for borrowing at the British Book Centre.

Also in the library: “Best Of British” vintage magazine about Britain’s past and culture.