Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Ulysses Seen : A Graphic Novel

Via the Ulysses Seen blog
“Ulysses ‘SEEN’” is the inaugural project of Throwaway Horse LLC. Throwaway Horse is devoted to fostering understanding of public domain literary masterworks by joining the visual aid of the graphic novel with the explicatory aid of the internet. By creating “Web 2.0” versions of these works, we hope to proliferate and help to not only preserve them, but ensure their continued vitality and relevance. Throwaway Horse projects are meant to be mere companion pieces to the works themselves—by outfitting the reader with the familiar gear of the comic narrative and the progressive gear of web annotations, we hope that a tech-savvy new generation of readers will be able to cut through jungles of unfamiliar references and appreciate the subtlety and artistry of the original books themselves which they otherwise might have neglected.
Ulysses is uniquely suited to this treatment. The Throwaway Horse members love this book, and it kills us that it has gotten the reputation for being inaccessible to everyone besides the English professors who make their careers teaching the book to future English professors who will make their careers doing the same. ‘Tweren’t supposed to be that way. It is a funny, sometimes scatological, book about the triumphs and failures of hum-drum, every day life. It makes heroes out of schlubs and cuts the epic down to size. And its elitist reputation has placed it well on its way to being as relevant to our cultural currency as conjugating Latin.
It is Joycean cliché to point out that he put enough puzzles and riddles in Ulysses to keep professors busy for a century. If the professors can’t figure it out, what about the rest of us?. Rob Berry, the artist that conceived this mad undertaking, eases us into turn of the (20th) century Ireland, and the book’s challenging treatment of time and action, through the familiar language of comic books. And Mike Barsanti, our resident scholar, uses the infinite resources of the web (not to mention his own estimable insight) to tame the million and one references and allusions in the book to the point where they’ll fetch your slippers and the morning paper.
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