April A to Z: O is for Ordinary #atozchallenge

By Niall McArdle


We live in a culture that celebrates the extraordinary – a world of superlatives: fastest man, best actor, richest people, sexiest women (the culture of superlatives is also rather sexist: it’s easy to find polls of female beauty, more difficult to find celebrations of women’s intellect or achievements).

But what of the ordinary? The mundane? The quotidian grind of trivialities and simplicity?

For today’s A to Z Challenge, O is for Ordinary


James Joyce wrote Ulysses to celebrate the ordinary, everyday pleasures that can be had walking, eating, drinking, and thinking. Leopold Bloom has much in the way of ordinary wisdom. Some think the novel is too abstract, too high-brow, too hard, but in fact Joyce wrote it for the ordinary reader (he used to give copies of it to waiters, feeling sure that they more than anyone else would understand it).

Declan Kiberd has written the most marvellous guide to the ordinary wisdom of this extraordinary book. Ulysses and Us is one of the best pieces of crticism on Joyce; it makes the book more than accessible.


Like Ulysses, there is much ordinary wisdom to be had in Seven Pleasures: Essays on Ordinary Happiness by Willard Spiegelman.

Extraordinary A to Z bloggers here, here and here.

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