I've gone from understanding only about 10% of Ulysses to hardly any at all. After looking at a SparkNotes analysis, Joyce apparently is experimenting with different narrative styles as the book progresses (starting around chapter 9). They're not kidding. I was seriously lost for many sections and only now that it's come back to a more usual style do I have any chance at all.
My limited observations:
- Joyce loves to pun and play with the language a lot especially through the voice of Stephen Dedalus. This is why I think of him as a Robin Williams of sorts.
- Ulysses is apallingly crude - mostly through the actions, obsessions, and interactions of Leopold Bloom. I don't mind explcitness, but this is just so coarse in places. Of course those would be the parts I understand. :)
I'm on Volume 2 of 3 and am nearly finished with Vol 2 and Vol 3 isn't nearly that big, but I don't think I'm going to continue. I love Joyce (I liked Dubliners), but I think I'd get more out of his other works.