Sure. You can read ULYSSES without a guide, but why? There's so much that even Joyce himself couldn't catch if he hadn't written the book. There are many forward references. I'm reminded of an advertisement Bloom finds in one of the early chapters. The address is encoded with all sorts of information that Joyce hasn't yet disclosed. Blamires explains a lot of this for you. Well, who's to say what "a lot" is when talking of ULYSSES. OK, he explains some of it. As noted in another review, one of the satisfying things about THE NEW BLOOMSDAY BOOK is that it doesn't give away all the fun stuff. Which leads me to my recommendation on how to use it. For the first half of the book, I read the episode and then read Blamires. This, I think, is the usual way. Then I tried to read Blamires first. What a difference. My fear, and maybe yours, is that reading Blamires first will be a spoiler. Well, when you a finish an episode and don't know what has happened there's really nothing to spoil. I recommend reading Blamires first. Armed with the knowledge of what to look for you can discover the ingenious ways Joyce tells the story. Again, Blamires just gives you the essentials. There will still be plenty of thrills if you read the episode after reading Blamires.