- Paperback: 590 pages
- Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (January 7, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1523282800
- ISBN-13: 978-1523282807
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 1,129 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,320,392 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Ulysses. Paperback – January 7, 2016
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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 --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
The end section of Ulysses is one of the most fascinating and important-pieces of literature ever written.-Molly Bloom's-episode is essential for anyone with an interest in literature to read.
-The final episode, which also uses the stream of consciousness technique seen in Episode 3, consists of Molly Bloom's Soliloquy: eight enormous sentences (without punctuation) written from the viewpoint of Bloom's wife.
In her eighth sentence, Molly thinks of her husband's strange habits, how he never embraces her, instead kissing her bottom, like he did earlier. Molly speculates that the world would be much improved if it consisted of Matriarchal Societies, run exclusively by women. She thinks again of Stephen, and of his mother's death, and that of Rudy's death, she then ends this line of thought as it is making her depressed. Molly thinks about arousing Bloom in the morning, then revealing the details of her affair Boylan to make him realize his culpability. Molly then decides to procure some flowers, in case Stephen Dedalus decides to come around. Thinking of flowers, Molly thinks of the day she and Bloom spent at Howth, his marriage proposal, and her response, reaffirming her love for Leopold, even during a period of turbulence within the marriage.
The concluding period following the final words of her reverie is one of only three punctuation marks in the chapter, the others being after the fourth and eighth "sentences." When written this episode contained the longest "sentence" in English literature, 4,391 words expressed by Molly Bloom. (Wikipedia)--Wikipedia
As Stephen Dedalus, Leopold and Molly Bloom know only too well, a day is a long time in literature (and literary Dublin). A confession: despite many attempts, I have never finished Joyce's novel to end all novels (I usually trip up during the 'Oxen of the Sun' episode). This year I decided to get some help and listen as well as read. Having dipped into the excellent but edited 'dramatisation' by Stephen Rea and Sinead Cusack, I went for this unabridged, 27-hour reading by Irish actor Jim Norton. The effect is not unlike seeing Shakespeare on stage. Some sections pass you by entirely: I found Dedalus' famous entrance ('Ineluctable modality of the visible…') utterly baffling. But hearing Joyce's prose brought other parts to life. The celebrated pub scene, in which Bloom is mistaken for a victorious gambler, becomes a glorious torrent of sounds and voices. The real test is Molly Bloom's concluding soliloquy, gloriously read by Marcella Riordan. Is this a masterpiece, on audiobook as well as usual? Yes (to quote Molly herself), yes, yes, yes. --South China Morning Post --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top customer reviews
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!”
Loosely based on the divisions of Homer's Odyssey, except instead of returning home from the Trojan War, the 'hero', walks around Dublin.
Lots of sex and it was banned for a long time and stopped from entering the US until 1933. But the sex is presented as part of life rather random events. This version was recommended to me and it's great. A good size - the book is almost 800 pages. I'm reading it aloud and am about two-thirds of the way through.
It's my current reading project. It demands much of the reader and it requires some re-reading as you go alone. It is so satisfying. Dare I say I've learned more about life and myself than from any book I've ever read and I a very mature reader?
I would suggest if you don't know anything about it, you read up on it, give a listen first so you can have the accents in your head and then buy this version .
Read it if you dare. Don't be shocked.
Wiki for spoiler
Cliff notes for ease of digestion.
Ulysses is considered a modern retelling of Homer's Odyssey. However, the parallels with the Odyssey are so veiled in Ulysses that even a reader who is thoroughly familiar with the former might not see any such similarities in the latter without the aid of a scholarly plot analysis. Since Joyce has indeed kept the college professors busy for almost a hundred years, there are many such analyses available. Given that Homer's work forms the foundation of Ulysses, ideally one should read the Odyssey prior to tackling Ulysses.
The experience of Ulysses is made particularly trying by the lack of chapter divisions in the text. Joyce himself along with many critics agreed that the book can be broken into eighteen chapters that correspond to specific "books" of the Odyssey, however these divisions are not noted in the text. This is another reason to have a good plot summary and analysis at hand as one reads this work.
My four star rating of Ulysses is based on the reward one feels after completing the experience of what many consider the greatest novel of the twentieth century.