Often considered one of the finest books of the 20th century, James Joyce's 1922 novel Ulysses is akin to the Demon's Souls of English literature wherein only the most dedicated fans of early modern prose have persevered through its approximately 265K words of nearly impenetrable text.
To combat its intimidating notoriety, filmmaker and animator Eoghan Kidney is adapting Joyce's magnum opus into an interactive digital experience for PC, Mac, iOS and Android.
After raising 113 per cent more than its €4K goal on crowdsourcing site FundIt, Kidney's aim with this adaptation, In Ulysses, isn't to mock or trivialise Joyce's work, but rather use it as a means of introducing the dense novel to those otherwise turned off by its stream-of-consciousness writing and challenging reputation.
"Like me, I'm guessing that most readers are put off by Stephen Dedalus's almost impenetrable stream of consciousness in the first three chapters," explained Kidney in his pitch. "Finding your way through these first few chapters might require a little outside assistance, but once unpacked they prove to be a great primer to discovering what makes Ulysses such a special book. This project will provide a new way to experience these chapters and hopefully offer a fresh gateway to new readers."
Much like how From Software expected players to work together to tackle its Souls series, Kidney argues that Joyce intended readers to collaborate to discuss whatever it is that the Irish novelist was getting at.
"It could be said that it takes a little effort on the reader's behalf to seek out the meaning in the words - for me it was unpacked by Frank Delaney in his excellent podcast, in Sam Slote's annotations, Columbia University's online version and a range of other types of media. Ulysses truly is an interactive multimedia experience," Kidney stated.
Kidney's adaptation will place players in Dublin on 16th June 1904, where they can experience scenes from the novel firsthand. This FundIt campaign will only cover the book's third chapter, Proteus, in which act one's protagonist, Stephen Dedalus, mopes about Sandymount Strand pondering the nature of reality.
As such, you'll enjoy a recreation of the coastline in Unreal Engine 3, while hearing Dedalus' thoughts like, "Ineluctable modality of the visible: at least that if no more, thought through my eyes."
One can see why so few are willing to bother with the original text. To make this more accessible, Kidney plans to pepper the virtual experience with images, textual annotations and links.
While this project will only cover the books opening act, Kidney would like to expand the In Ulysses even further and make another chapter about Ulysses' other protagonist, Leopold Bloom.
"A fun experience, a next-gen E-Book and an educational tool exploring the meanings hidden within the language of James Joyce's masterpiece - In Ulysses will be a new way of reading Joyce's work," Kidney stated.