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James Joyce's Ulysses: Critical Essays Paperback – November 2, 1977

4.7 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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About the Author

David Hayman is Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 447 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (November 2, 1977)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520032756
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520032750
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #279,914 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
I am no Joycean scholar but as "Ulysses" is consistently rated as one of the greatest novels of the 20th century I was determined to get through it and understand it as best I could. This collection of essays I found very helpful and while the authors have way too much time on their hands to be considering Joyce's novel to the depth they do (one of them actually retraced the steps of all the characters in the Wandering Rocks episode to determine whether Joyce's narrative was realistic), I did not find it a difficult read and it was interesting to have a variety of views from different critics in the one volume. I doubt whether I would have made it through "Ulysses" without this by my side, and also "Ulysses Annotated". I think I will leave "Finnegan's Wake" for the next metempsychosis.
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These essays are mainly for the very well educated in literature who are unduly interested in Ulysses, and/or doing scholarly research on James Joyce. However, even attempting to read these essays does help one to get more meaning out of Joyce's great novel. These essays are hardly any easier to read than the novel itself, but if you have the intelligence and education to understand and appreciate them, it's certainly worth the effort. The essays cover all the chapters of the novel individually--not the novel as a whole--so if there is one particular chapter you are interested in learning more about, or having trouble understanding, you can find an essay that concentrates only on that particular chapter.
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A few years ago some Twitter wit, I forget whom, suggested that the eighteen episodes comprising James Joyce's Ulysses might be conceived of as more-or-less independent scrolls; that the compounded tome represents a collection of said scrolls compiled in a manner like unto how Homer might have aggregated The Odyssey from the efforts of pre-existing raconteurs, imparting his own authorial stamp to the collective work. While I've no indication that such was Joyce's intent, I've ever since found the mental image of a disheveled pile of scrolls to be a useful model for thinking about Ulysses and its (in)famously radical shifts of style and emphasis from one episode to the next. This could also account for Joyce referring to said independent components as episodes rather than the conventional chapters.

Taking on Ulysses episode by episode, James Joyce's Ulysses: Critical Essays, edited by Hart and Hayman, is so stuffed with invaluable insights that never before in my life have I filled up a book with so many Post-It notes for later review. Having already been though Ulysses about seven or eight times in the last few years, and beginning ― so I innocently believed ― to acquire a certain panoramic vision and appreciation of its sweeping narrative and vast multitude of characters, Hart and Hayman humbled me, revealing that in some ways I am only just beginning to break down through the superficial crust of the book and to plunge into the true and unexpected allusive ocean of dimly-lit psychopoetics which broods beneath. Some of the episodes I now must fundamentally rethink; others I now suspect I perceive only through the darkest glass most obscurely.
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Joyce was 40 yrs old when Ulysses was published, it is a day in the life of a husband and father of Joyce's age (at publication). Joyce loved Dublin and Ireland and though the book was written on the European continent - he wanted to memorialize his birth home (Ireland). The framework of Ulysses is Homer's Odyssey - The Roman (Ulysses) is the translation of the Greek (Odyssey): 1 Telemachus, 2 Nestor, 3 Proteus, 4 Calypso, 5 Lotus Eaters, 6 Hades, 7 Aeolus, 8 Lestrygonians, 9 Scylla And Charybdis, 10 Wandering Rocks, 11 Sirens, 12 Cyclops, 13 Nausicca, 14 Oxen Of The Sun, 15 Circe, 16 Eumaeus, 17 Ithaca, and 18 Penelope.

Literary complements like "James Joyce's Ulysses: Critical Essays ..." can be helpful in understanding Joyce's works.

Ulysses is the tale of a Modern-day Odysseus, Leopold Bloom in his personal existential/sexual quest. The conclusion of this quest is the quintessential affirmation of humanity, the fundamental family unit - the father, mother, son, and daughter. Like Odysseus, absent from Penelope, traveling the world, for many long years, Leopold Bloom is also absent from his Penelope (in Dublin). Like a traveler (Odysseus), Bloom is sexually absent (abstinent) from Molly “10 years, 5 months and 18 days” (736). Unlike Odysseus, the obstacles Bloom faces are psychological (modern) - internal travails instead of Odysseus' external travails. Bloom's only son’s death has become a psychological barrier; as Molly reflects: “we were never the same since” (778). Yet Bloom is optimistic throughout the work - in regard to the possibility of another child, again Molly: ”Ill give him one more chance” (780). Affirmatively (as we grow to know Molly) we find she has given and is willing to continue to give Bloom “one more chance”.
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James Joyce's Ulysses: Critical Essays
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