Than there is the writing: to grapple with the words and linguistic pyrotechnics of James Joyce—to enter into his exploration of the body, mind and street-life, to sit in awe of his allusions, musicality, interweaving structures and thematic developments is to expand the possibilities of the written word. Then to do this with a diverse group of other curious readers who are also struggling and discovering allows each reader to enrich their own understanding many fold. We laugh, we express our frustrations, we query meaning and purpose, we discover great depth in the language and vision of the writer.

Coming Ulysses study: Eight week-Virtual Salon will get you two-thirds through this amazing work with all the support and back ground you need and a lively group of minds to bring pleasure to the journey…

Why read Ulysses?

By far the most thrilling reading experiences of my life have centred in Kentish Town, in a cosy sitting room in the home of Toby Brothers, the gifted director of the London Literary Salons. Each of the books we read was rich and challenging, but the thrill came from the distinctive style that Toby has evolved for guiding readers through a given text.

Deeply engaged with and knowledgeable about literature, Toby is highly developed as an agile guide, a careful instructor, and perhaps most important, a sensitive and infinitely patient facilitator to the small group of ‘students’ in her charge. She can unite participants of wildly varying levels of education, experience and interests, and help each to bring him or herself to bear upon the study of great works of literature. The thrill comes from the sense of discovery, adventure, and sheer good fun we get from our mutual exploration of a given writer.

A lifelong bookworm, I knew there were some works I just wouldn’t get the full meat of on my own – ranging from a slim and perhaps deceptively straightforward-seeming book like ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’ to novels like ‘Invisible Man’ with its deep racial themes, to Shakespeare’s plays, up the granddaddy of all English-major holy grails, Ulysses, by James Joyce. Toby and the London Literary Salon have been invaluable to fully tucking into these and many more. For each, I came away with meat and potatoes — a careful read bolstered by a side plate of critical insight and nuance unobtrusively provided by Toby.

But even better was the unexpected and satisfying savour of the personal and often marvellous insights that Toby draws out of fellow salon participants.Incidentally, many friendships have bloomed during salon studies and their associated adventures, such as travelling to Dublin for the annual, often raucous celebration of Ulysses and its creator.

The American novelist John Williams, author deplored the notion that literature is something to be picked apart, as if it were a puzzle – to be studied rather than experienced. ‘My God, to read without joy is stupid,’ he said. The  London Literary Salon will help readers to experience great books with joy.