Apart from everything that you could possibly imagine, nothing much happens in Ulysses.
Very true. It reminded me of a couple moments in the seminar on Ulysses I took from Robert D Newman (then TAMU professor, now President and Director of the National Humanities Center – how our lives and ambitions and dreams lead us).
The first was when he summarized the book (himself or in quote). “It’s just about a single day. Not much happens on that day, and everything happens on that day.”
The second, and this was during a crest of the textual analysis waves, where the Gabler edition had recently been published, was when he came into class a minute or so late and said somewhat breathlessly “I’m sorry I’m late, I was on the phone with John Kidd, who was counting commas.”
It’s never too soon to pick up Ulysses. It is about a single day. It is about everything. It’s reputation for depth is earned and shouldn’t be a deterrent. Let the language and tale sweep you through the day, and let the references flutter past like the leaves on the sidewalk you’re walking along. You can rake them up later.