Marilyn Monroe reading “Ulysses” by James Joyce, 1955.
Posted by u/DiosMioMan63
Richard Brown, a Professor of Modern Literature at the University of Leeds with a special interest in James Joyce, wrote to the photographer, Eve Arnold, asking if Marilyn was indeed reading Joyce’s novel or if she was merely posing for the photo. The following is an excerpt of Arnold’s reply on 20 July 1993:
We worked on a beach on Long Island. She was visiting Norman Rosten the poet. As far as I remember (it is some thirty years ago) I asked her what she was reading when I went to pick her up (I was trying to get an idea of how she spent her time). She said she kept Ulysses in her car and had been reading it for a long time. She said she loved the sound of it and would read it aloud to herself to try to make sense of it — but she found it hard going. She couldn’t read it consecutively. When we stopped at a local playground to photograph she got out the book and started to read while I loaded the film. So, of course, I photographed her. It was always a collaborative effort of photographer and subject where she was concerned — but almost more her input.
Marilyn was wicked smart and exceptionally well read. It should be noted that the majority of people share in the difficulty of reading Ulysses. I have not tried it yet, but I envision the same scenario for myself.