Reader, attend to Sally Rooney:
Each reader, of course, encounters their own Ulysses: the one they create for themselves in the act of reading. Every reading of the novel yields a new text, one that has been pulled this way and that by the attention and inattention, the knowledge and ignorance, the likes and dislikes of the particular reader. And that reader is inevitably an entire person: a person with their own distinctive body, their own feelings, their own vocabulary, their own personal library of sensory memories and associations. These qualities are not unfortunate failures of objectivity: they are what make us capable of reading in the first place. Ulysses demands a reader who can respond as a human being, emotionally, intellectually, physically, erotically, even spiritually. And these demands are made on readers who are by necessity in no two cases the same. In our own particular bodies, reading with our eyes and our hands, with our own thoughts and feelings, we remake and reinterpret every text we encounter. Every interpretation has its weaknesses, its points of interest, its missing pieces. From this small limited partial perspective, embracing its smallness and limitations, I feel I need not worry so much about “misreading” Joyce. Every reading of Ulysses is a misreading, a faulty but revealing translation, a way of drawing the novel into new and perhaps unintended relationships. All that matters to me is finding a way to read the book that is interesting: that opens out instead of closing down.
This is, of course, why it can be such an illuminating experience to re-read a text you loved (or hated) at an earlier period in your life after some years have passed; it will inevitably offer up different things to the person you are than it did to the person you were. Each “misreading” helps us see a little more of the text and a little more of ourselves through the text.