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Showing 1-10 of 575 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 1,135 reviews
on January 18, 2017
“Ulysses”: the literary reader’s favorite and the casual reader’s frustration. It is a difficult book to read - if the experts are right, the difficulty is worth it. Nonetheless, it remains difficult, and for that, any judgement based on the usual “good story - well told” criterion will be less than fair to this masterpiece.

My first attempt ended 43 years ago on page 38 (the bookmark was still there.) But the book can’t be ignored it is on nearly every ‘100 greatest books’ ever written list: there are many 'bests' lists and “Ulysses” is usually in the leadoff, or #2 spot - that doesn’t happen by ‘chance’!

The difficulty with this read is that the reader is often simply ‘listening’ to the protagonists thoughts presented in stream-of-consciousness style, while Joyce is constantly ‘playing’ with the language; English, French, Latin even Italian, and he plays with the characters and other authors, even his own prior work, and philosophies are explored, and all-the-while the story is an allegory of Homer’s (the Greek, not Simpson) “Odyssey”. And yet, still… in the back of the mind, you just can’t help but wonder if the myopic little Jimmy J. was just having it on with all of us. In fact, he said himself... "I've put in so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant, and that's the only way of insuring one's immortality." (Joyce's reply for a request for a plan of Ulysses, as quoted in James Joyce (1959) by Richard Ellmann.)

Apropos the game of baseball, for which it has been said, “There’s a whole lot of stuff going on out there” (…which the uninitiated is unable to see). I didn't ‘see’ all that Joyce had to say (yep…uninitiated!) but I saw enough to recognize the enormous importance of this book. If I may modify the definition of 4-stars from “I Like it” to “I Admire it”, then I can make the rating system work for this read. If you are a reader, you will want to read this book someday - but wait until you are ready to concentrate on it: Joyce does not throw slow-pitch, its all curves, sliders and cutters and nasty sinkers! If you strike out, its your own fault, not his.

The story line is a walk through Dublin on the day of June 16th 1904 where we follow the separate strolls of Stephen Dedalus, a budding poet and Leopold Bloom, an advertisement salesman, till they meet in the evening, go on a drunk together then separate onto their own paths again. Simple story? Sure, but you’d better pay attention because, “there’s a whole lot of stuff going on out there!”
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on May 16, 2017
It is a classic, it is lengthy, it is written well. The content might not be everyone's cuppa tea. I use this more as a literary reference to style than for content. In that regard it is wonderfully done.

Wiki for spoiler
Cliff notes for ease of digestion.
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on April 1, 2016
This is an almost 100 year old book that crosses some very important ground in literature. It has been one of the most iconic books of it's time and it is credited with being the 1st of it's kind. You can read more here: [...] where it summarizes each section with details enough to help you decide to read it and the importance it was to literature in it's time. It is a required reading for almost all high school students. I think there are lots of great books but this is one that almost everyone has heard of in one form or another.
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on August 2, 2015
I am now of the opinion, since I've tried it both ways, that like the <i>Wake</i>, Joyce's magnum opus should be read in groups and discussed, because a room full of varied perspectives and differing contextual and textual knowledge is far superior to one person's frame of reference, however seemingly erudite you think you are. <i> Ulysses </i> explodes all monomaniacal concepts of time, history, and gender (male gender, anyway, my only criticism is that the female portrayals, even the great Molly Bloom, rely a little to heavily on stereotype). It stages postcolonial subjectivity almost a hundred years before Homi Bhabha coined the terminology. It riffs on every literary form imaginable and some previously unimagined. This hybrid text is sheer magic, lyrical like a poem, rich and allusive like an allegory, the power of Joyce's language at its zenith. It demands active reading, and I consider finishing it the greatest accomplishment of my intellectual life.
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on September 2, 2017
Yes, some of us really read Ulysses, and have even finished it. This comes with Dubliners. I always tell people approaching Joyce for the first time to start with Dubliners, and end with Ulysses, so this is a nice bookend set
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on November 20, 2016
James Joyce's complex novel is still fascinating after almost a century. The author's gifted sketching of complete characters amazes the reader now as it must have when it was first published almost a century ago. Scandalous in early twentieth century, not so much now but still highly entertaining . And the language ! Through Joyce's uncanny skill, one can hear his characters' lilting Irish voices and partake of their gossipy exchanges. Joyce's political ideas and his jibes at Irish Catholic religion are largely forgettable now, but Molly Bloom and Stephen Daedalus will live long in your memory.
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on June 1, 2016
I've started Ulysses several times before, never getting very far before putting it down. This time, I found that reading it out loud opens it up, making it not only understandable but enjoyable. The language is musical, the writing playful and inventive, insightful and truthful. It took me a couple of months to finish - I found I couldn't couldn't read too much at one time, the reading demanded full attention. But when tired, I just put it down for a while, to come back to when rested and refreshed. I can understand why some find it unreadable and others a classic of English literature. I feel much richer for the experience of finally figuring out how to enjoy it. Inspiring!
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on July 29, 2016
A revolutionary book in the stream of consciousness genre. Authors love it because it takes writing to a new level of thoughtfulness and abstraction. And no topic is taboo to Joyce. But that having been said, its chief merit is in the shock factor. A shock factor 100 years old. Most modern readers would find it slow paced and confusing. You'll have a hard time finding plot here. Its a book you have to work at and one that is probably relegated to college lit classes in the 400 to 500 level. Lots of poetical elements included. What helps when reading it are a good knowledge of French and Latin. Joyce peppers both throughout the book.
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on October 3, 2008
I bought this to supplement the 1961 Random House edition (balance of textual corrections and respect for the original, matches most annotations), Modern Library edition (most portable, attractive package as all ML editions, typography a tad hard on my 40-something eyes) and '80s "Gabler edition" (hotly contested, worth keeping as a collector's item as it's been largely withdrawn).

The original Shakespeare & Co. printings are out of my league, although I've seen several. Until I hit the lottery, this is the closest I'll own. A quick Google will find you first edition, first printing copies selling for up to 100k. I doubt my stimulus check is that big.

This is a textual facsimile - a photo reproduction of the original, 1000-copy first edition - copy #784, to be exact. It also reproduces the cover typography and the Shakespeare and Co. title page, with an added, Orchises title page to keep the record clear. It contains the original colophon. It doesn't contain the forward, letter from Joyce to Bennett Cerf or Judge Woolsey opinion you're probably used to seeing in American editions.

In a physical sense, it's hard to say how this is a facsimile, other than Orchises has reproduced the full size of the original. Of course, the paper and binding material are different.

Most S. & Co. editions came unbound in blue-green wrappers, and could be bound as desired. This is why you see original printings in such disparate bindings. Orchises has reproduced the color of the original wrappers, although their binding looks a little more green than the original wrappers (maybe the color has shifted on those?). In any case, it's a solid cloth binding, comparable to, say, a better-than-average library binding. Bound size given as 9.6 x 7.5 x 1.7 inches, I measure it a hair taller. I daresay it will hold up to extended use.

In addition to giving the slight tingle of pleasure that comes from knowing you're reading the text as originally sold at 12, Rue de l'Odeon, this edition is much more comfortable on my eyes than the others. I like the typeface used by original printer Maurice Darantiere for readability, but haven't gotten a definitive answer as to what it is - does anyone know? Somehow, it just feels right.

Orchises says the paper is 50-pound, ph-balanced (aka acid-free) paper, and that seems about right. It's really good paper, with a slight, almost visually undetectable textured finish that feels good to the fingers. Excellent paper-to-ink contrast. I can, and will, read this all day.

For the average reader, there's no earthly reason to spend this amount on a novel, and the ML edition will be both more convenient and, with its front material, more informative. For someone who rereads Ulysses for pleasure, it's a joy. The 1922 text has been analyzed to death, and is not without errors (2,000? 3,000? 5,000? the number gets larger each time it's mentioned). It was perhaps inevitable in a book with no clear reference manuscript - even the extant manuscripts were to some degree created by Joyce after the fact for sale. Part of one manuscript was burned by the angry husband of a typist, who found its content objectionable. An appreciable percentage of the text was written as corrections on the original proofs.

Hence the charming apology from Sylvia Beach reproduced in this facsimile: "The publisher asks the reader's indulgence for typographical errors unavoidable in the exceptional circumstances. S.B."

But each effort to correct the errors added more errors, as well as layers of contention. See the well-documented battle over the Gabler edition. Or the disastrous 1998 "Reader's edition" by Danis Rose. The original is as good as any for reading, and if you care enough to buy a facsimile, you will have other editions for comparison anyway.

For scholarly use, this isn't the best edition, since most standard annotations match the Random House or Modern Library editions. Unless you're beyond Ulysses 101 and want to compare editions.

This is one of three first-edition facsimiles that have been published. I can't speak to the others, but I can recommend this one. Kudos to Orchises, and I hope they keep it in print. Or not, so my copy will become a minor-league collector's item.

Ulysses has become an obsession and and a world in and of itself for its partisans, of whom I am one. The Ulysses obsession is much like the Higher Criticism surrounding the Sherlock Holmes canon. Many people find it bizarre, and I can hardly disagree. If, like me, you've got the bug, I don't have to explain it to you. This is an edition for you.

If you don't, I paraphrase Louis Armstrong: "If you have to ask, you'll never know."
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It looks as if an improved Project Gutenberg text can be downloaded to Kindle. The issues of missing text are fixed at least in a spot-check of the opening chapter. I just checked with a new download via the PG website of a 1.72 mb file. But, as of today, you have to do it yourself, not via the instant function here. (Amazon's site is not aligned to do this as of this date of writing. I note as I write this Amazon posted a note that the Kindle free [aka Project Gutenberg] text is not available and that they are looking into reported problems as an "item under review.")

I had first downloaded the free file a few weeks ago (pg4300.mobi @ 1.7 mb) to my Touch. I found that in the the Martello scene, for instance, "The Ballad of Joking Jesus" sung memorably by Malachi was missing. Other ditties, such as "I am the boy...invisibility") indicated by indentation in standard form (even in the e-book online via Gutenberg-dot-org) were missing as well from the Kindle version of the free text. In other places, if not surprisingly, spacing was off. I assume later chapters may have lacked the graphic designs that the novel relied upon as to punctuation and page presentation. The spacing looks a little better in the updated download. Let's hope these matters have been corrected, thanks to Gutenberg's team of volunteers for a valuable service after so many decades of copyright control beyond reasonable limits exerted by the author's estate against creative uses.

One challenge, if not to be blamed on any version of Joyce's text as published originally. The e-books come in parts I (Stephen), II (Bloom) and III (Molly). So, the chapters attributed later on are not included, but they may be on electronic resources that are not the public domain one, as added value. I cannot figure out on a Kindle how to make bookmarks and label them as to chapters--I did this on an Aldiko version on my phone.

Finding gratis a public domain (finally!) version despite its drawbacks is wonderful. I cannot fault those who prepared a difficult text for an e-book for free. There are other versions for sale that are nicer, and they merit their own reviews by others, but Amazon heaps all media for many texts in the public domain together, so rating the medium is jumbled with the content itself, no easy solution.

Making e-books off of a notoriously unstable ur-text that's long tested the patience of any Joycean editor already isn't easy. So, the bulk of the novel's intact for reference, concordance work, and looking up passages or phrases nearly instantly. It can always be compared to the Gabler or Random House eds., of course. It's great to have my favorite novel even in its rawer form, to look up or dip into on a Kindle.
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