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Ulysses [Paperback]

James Joyce
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (635 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 16, 1990 0679722769 978-0679722762 Reissue
This revised volume follows the complete unabridged text as corrected in 1961. Contains the original foreword by the author and the historic court ruling to remove the federal ban. It also contains page references to the first American edition of 1934.

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Ulysses + Dubliners (Dover Thrift Editions) + A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Dover Thrift Editions)
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Ulysses has been labeled dirty, blasphemous, and unreadable. In a famous 1933 court decision, Judge John M. Woolsey declared it an emetic book--although he found it sufficiently unobscene to allow its importation into the United States--and Virginia Woolf was moved to decry James Joyce's "cloacal obsession." None of these adjectives, however, do the slightest justice to the novel. To this day it remains the modernist masterpiece, in which the author takes both Celtic lyricism and vulgarity to splendid extremes. It is funny, sorrowful, and even (in a close-focus sort of way) suspenseful. And despite the exegetical industry that has sprung up in the last 75 years, Ulysses is also a compulsively readable book. Even the verbal vaudeville of the final chapters can be navigated with relative ease, as long as you're willing to be buffeted, tickled, challenged, and (occasionally) vexed by Joyce's sheer command of the English language.

Among other things, a novel is simply a long story, and the first question about any story is: What happens?. In the case of Ulysses, the answer might be Everything. William Blake, one of literature's sublime myopics, saw the universe in a grain of sand. Joyce saw it in Dublin, Ireland, on June 16, 1904, a day distinguished by its utter normality. Two characters, Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom, go about their separate business, crossing paths with a gallery of indelible Dubliners. We watch them teach, eat, stroll the streets, argue, and (in Bloom's case) masturbate. And thanks to the book's stream-of-consciousness technique--which suggests no mere stream but an impossibly deep, swift-running river--we're privy to their thoughts, emotions, and memories. The result? Almost every variety of human experience is crammed into the accordian folds of a single day, which makes Ulysses not just an experimental work but the very last word in realism.

Both characters add their glorious intonations to the music of Joyce's prose. Dedalus's accent--that of a freelance aesthetician, who dabbles here and there in what we might call Early Yeats Lite--will be familiar to readers of Portrait of an Artist As a Young Man. But Bloom's wistful sensualism (and naive curiosity) is something else entirely. Seen through his eyes, a rundown corner of a Dublin graveyard is a figure for hope and hopelessness, mortality and dogged survival: "Mr Bloom walked unheeded along his grove by saddened angels, crosses, broken pillars, family vaults, stone hopes praying with upcast eyes, old Ireland's hearts and hands. More sensible to spend the money on some charity for the living. Pray for the repose of the soul of. Does anybody really?" --James Marcus

Review

"Ulysses will immortalize its author with the same certainty that Gargantua immortalized Rabelais, and The Brothers Karamazov immortalized Dostoyevsky.... It comes nearer to being the perfect revelation of a personality than any book in existence."
-The New York Times

"To my mind one of the most significant and beautiful books of our time."
-Gilbert Seldes, in The Nation

"Talk about understanding "feminine psychology"-- I have never read anything to surpass it, and I doubt if I have ever read anything to equal it."
-Arnold Bennett

"In the last pages of the book, Joyce soars to such rhapsodies of beauty as have probably never been equaled in English prose fiction."
-Edmund Wilson, in The New Republic


From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 783 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reissue edition (June 16, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679722769
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679722762
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (635 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #194,994 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
(635)
3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1,021 of 1,084 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Okay. Is it really worth it? April 26, 2000
Format:Paperback
Ulysses is one of those big, mad bellwethers of a book that X will tell you is the biggest, best, most important blah blah blah and Y will tell you is a load of badly written tripe. Neither X nor Y tend to notice that the book consciously encourages both responses...but, well, I'll get back to the academic riffing in a minute.
I first tried to read Ulysses aged about 14 (I was an annoying little boy that way) and didn't get very far. The first three chapters are set in and around the mind of Stephen Dedalus, one of the most ridiculously clever and over-educated characters ever conceived, as he takes breakfast with some friends, teaches in a school some miles south of Dublin and walks along a beach. Along the way, his mind ruminates on subjects as diverse as 16th century underworld slang, his dead mother, and something he calls "the ineluctable modality of the visible" which I'm still struggling with. But he's a curiously ambiguous character, this Stephen; he fancies himself as a poet and rebel but when, on the beach, he picks his nose, he has a quick look around to see that nobody's watching before he smears the snot on a rock. (Joyce likes to poke fun at pretension this way - although he doesn't suggest that Stephen's ideas or rebel stance are completely hollow, either.)
The 14-year-old me didn't get that far. I gave up. It wasn't until I was 19 or so that I got as far as chapter four and encountered a Mr. Bloom, pottering around the kitchen making breakfast, that I started to get a grip. Bloom is one of the most likeable characters in fiction. He's a quiet, rather shy, oddly intelligent advertising salesman married to a voluptuous siren of a wife, Molly.
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197 of 221 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mission Accomplishable September 10, 2003
Format:Paperback
O.k. to start with...for all of you out there who are interested in reading "Ulysses" but are intimidated by all of the rest of you out there who say it's unreadable, take my advice. Read this book. It's absolutely ridiculous to say this book can't be read. I can't say you're going to find it interesting or enjoyable, but you can read it.
There are people who would have you believe you have to wage a massive campaign of pre-"Ulysses" study before delving into Joyce's novel. I've heard it's necessary to read biographies of Joyce, read all of his other literature, read about the history of Dublin, read Greek mythology...even study Dublin city maps!!! Don't you believe any of this. "Ulysses" is perfectly approachable having read none of the above. I admit that reading "Portrait of the Artist" first is helpful, and at least having some passing knowledge of "The Odyssey" won't hurt, but being familiar with these other works will only help you appreciate some of Joyce's nuances. Being unfamiliar with them will not prevent you from digesting "Ulysses."
Now, for the book itself. Is "Ulysses" good? That's become an almost irrelevant question to ask. Do you have to like "Ulysses?" No. Do you have to admit that it is the greatest novel ever written? No. Anyone denying that the book was influential in altering the course of literature would just be foolish. However, I don't think "Ulysses" is the be-all and end-all of 20th Century literature, and the new ground that Joyce broke would have been broken anyway had he not done it first. He was certainly an innovator, but other authors (Faulkner comes to mind) use Joyce's modernist approach to fiction and do it better.
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148 of 165 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Book of All Time? July 17, 2006
By james
Format:Paperback
I have frequently heard Ulysses proclaimed the best book ever written, but I could never understand why. I purchased this edition of the novel three years ago, and since then it sat on my shelf, a mighty 900 page undertaking that I kept putting off. I was reluctant to read it, for I have often heard how difficult it was to get through. Finally, I have read it, and though I believe it presumptuous to call any one book "the best book of all time", I certainly believe that Ulysses could claim that title. First off, it is not a difficult read. If you could get through A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, you can get through Ulysses. I heartily recommend this edition because of the brilliant introduction by Declan Kibard. Before I read Ulysses, I could not understand how this could be the best book of all time. According to my understanding, it was a novel detailing, in 900 pages, one day in the life of a Jewish Irishman, Leopold Bloom. A totally unremarkable day at that. After reading Kibard's introduction, I was fiercely eager to begin the novel. In his introduction, totally some 70 pages, Kibard answers the precise question I had: Why would this book be called the best of all time? This book is never boring, and is actually a quite enjoyable read. It is arranged in 18 chapters, and to me, the most astounding aspect of this piece of literature is the fact that every chapter is written in a different style. Joyce wanted to show that "originality" in terms of style was merely a new arrangement of previous styles, and so shows his brilliance as a writer by changing his technique and method completely in each chapter. It is indeed difficult to believe they were written by the same person. Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Ulysses is Life
Ulysses is a big long book with a lot of words and it hurts when you drop it on your toe. Mind you, Ulysses isn't the first book I've dropped on my toe: A King James Bible, my... Read more
Published 1 day ago by Dan Harlow
5.0 out of 5 stars #1 in Best Novels of the 20th Century
When anyone thinks Irish literature, one always thinks of James Joyce. Not an easy read, but many things that are worthwhile and enriching are not easy at first.
Published 2 days ago by Desert reader
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
beautiful edition!
Published 5 days ago by dolores
4.0 out of 5 stars I finished it! Now, was it worth it?
Bought this book when I was 21, and much more intellectually ambitious. Started it a half dozen times, but could never get past the third section, where Stephen just sits and... Read more
Published 9 days ago by Jake Barnes
4.0 out of 5 stars but if you start from chapter three on it is very good. I got that...
Har to read with so many a word of his own time...but if you start from chapter three on it is very good. Read more
Published 13 days ago by durval olivieri
5.0 out of 5 stars Fine copy.
Quick delivery in fine condition. The Gilbert annotations, bought at the same time, made rereading this essential 20th Century breakthrough masterpiece comprehensible and doubly... Read more
Published 14 days ago by Judith E Friedman
1.0 out of 5 stars Small print!
The print in this book is minute! I'd need a magnifying glass to read a word of it!

I can't believe they'd use such small print!
Published 18 days ago by Timothy John Peck
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth the effort (and time)
I first heard about Ulysses in high school but thought "so what?" As an English Lit major in college, I was assigned it in a course, but ended up reading Cliff's notes on... Read more
Published 20 days ago by Alvan F. Rosenthal
2.0 out of 5 stars everyone knows it is a 'classic' not nearly so many have read it
If I were a scholar of Irish history, the Catholic mass, and the Iliad this might have been a fun read. Read more
Published 22 days ago by George Rowbottom
5.0 out of 5 stars 20th century masterpiece
Ulysses is a masterpiece, probably the best novel of the 20th century. It is not an easy read, but if the reader perseveres he will find it fascinating.
Published 22 days ago by David Mandel
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joycean women
OK, here's what I know and I'm not even doing research (ugh to current third-level education and in fact phui too): that rare Irish beauty Gerty MacDowell on Sandymount Strand, the one what heats up considerably the trousers of a fleetingly disambiguated Leopold Bloom, walks off after the... Read More
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