- Paperback: 1040 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Classic; New Ed edition (March 28, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0141182806
- ISBN-13: 978-0141182803
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.8 x 7.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 1,184 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,260,407 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Ulysses (Penguin Modern Classics) New Ed Edition
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About the Author
James Joyce was born in Dublin on 2 February 1882, the eldest of ten children in a family which, after brief prosperity, collapsed into poverty. He was none the less educated at the best Jesuit schools and then at University College, Dublin, and displayed considerable academic and literary ability. Although he spent most of his adult life outside Ireland, Joyce's psychological and fictional universe is firmly rooted in his native Dublin, the city which provides the settings and much of the subject matter for all his fiction. He is best known for his landmark novel Ulysses (1922) and its controversial successor Finnegans Wake (1939), as well as the short story collection Dubliners (1914) and the semi-autobiographical novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916). James Joyce died in Zürich, on 13 January 1941.
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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… 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 to 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 batting practice, its all curves, sliders, and cutters and nasty sinkers! If you strike out, it's your own fault, not his.
The storyline 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!”
The book starts off quirky and interesting and (yay!) Stephen Dedalus is back. Each chapter is written in the style that is best for the content and that is one of the things that really impressed me. It is not "random" without a purpose and a lot of this "randomness" actually makes sense if you can recognize and pay attention to the literary/biblical/mythological allusions. Most of them are quite brilliant and I quote it all the time.( "Shakespeare is the happy hunting grounds of all minds that have lost their balance" and such).It is totally worth the time it takes to read it!
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