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Ulysses (The Gabler Edition) Paperback – May 12, 1986
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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 --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
-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."
"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
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A revolutionary book in the stream of consciousness genre. Authors love it because it takes writing to a new level of thoughtfulness and abstraction. Read morePublished 21 hours ago by Richard A. Hodges
Could not get through it. Forced myself to stay with it, but gave up after 50 pages or so. I would rather read a tech manual, at least that has a purpose.Published 2 days ago by Magsdad
What more can be said about a novel considered the best novel of the 20th C? I agree it is likely the most innovative novel that ushered in the “modern” literary age. Read morePublished 5 days ago by T. Kepler
The book every English speaker should pit against his/her own vocabulary against from time to time. It may be the best book for brilliant uses of English ever written. Read morePublished 9 days ago by C. Williams
I'm not exactly sure why this is regarded as one of the best books of literature. It's extremely boring and most will have no idea what the author is talking about at all. Read morePublished 9 days ago by Neoking
I guess it's my fault for not being more thorough but I really was not expecting the format of this edition. It's double the size of a regular book and it's printed in two columns.Published 23 days ago by Richard H.