After the intensive, multi-month studies of Ulysses and Proust, participants were asked to comment on their experience of the Salon…
How would you describe the Salon experience?
Surpassed my expectations….It’s been terrific, stimulating and well-structured. You lead us in the most gentle and firm way.
Starting by facing a wall with a closed door and no key–ending in a wonderful gander on the other side.always enjoy it. ..ultimately though love being able to read this book as part of a group and infact think it the only way to read it.if i were to carry on doing this i would like to look at the various stylistic devices and motifs etc that are employed.not so much what joyce is doing but how he is doing it. which is going to be difficult because I’m not really sure what he’s doing- but i jeep thinking the conversation can easily go the way of what he is doing – when there is a lot of richness in the historical detail, myths and techniques etc.
Beforehand I have not met anyone who had read Ulysses to the end and without the Salon I am sure I would have counted myself amongst that number.
Ulysses is not easy to read and understand and the sessions helped enormously, to the extent that I can now see why it is such a great book, which is not how I felt at the beginning.
It has exceeded my expectations. I had high expectations of the ‘standard’ of the Salon as far as the knowledge of the text and supporting materials go and this was certainly met. In addition however, it has been a very positive experience in that the atmosphere of the Salon is so permissive and generous, and that the Director and participants are such lovely people.
Being in a group was also good though I prefer the sessions when there not more than 6 present. More than that and the sessions lose their focus.
I remember Toby saying on one occasion how she’s seen people open up during the course of the study and my own experience of the Salon relates to this. Prior to the study, and still at times on individual sessions, I have been wary to speak out for several reasons, but the fact that the group is so open-minded allows for even the most poorly prepared explorations of the text. It is interesting also to see how we as a group have developed the reading and understanding together, and how much, variably, clearer/richer/more layered it appears than when reading it in solitude.
If anything I think we covered too much in each session. The chapters are long, too long to read comfortably in a week and contain too much to be discussed properly in a session. We needed more time. If I had a choice I would have preferred the course to last twice as long so we could have delved more deeply into the symbolism and had explained those parts which were incomprehensible. That we did not have enough time was a great pity. In the end I feel we only scratched the surface of the book.
What was good was how the group jelled into a cohesive group. It is perhaps obvious that it would do so but nevertheless it was pleasing to be part of this.
Overall most enjoyable and always of interest with lots of stimulating content. It more than met my expectations and kept me on my toes.
The venue in a private house lends the proceedings a more informal air and presents as less intimidating that a formal classroom setting. On the other hand, there is less space to hide and therefore puts greater pressure on one as a participant to do a bit of homework. It’s not so easy to ‘wing it’ really.