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Ulysses (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – 30 Mar 2000


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Product details

  • Paperback: 1040 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (30 Mar. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141182806
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141182803
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 5.1 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (268 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 66,545 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Ulysses has been labelled dirty, blasphemous and unreadable. In a famous 1933 court decision, Judge John M. Woolsey declared it an emetic book--although he found it not quite obscene enough to disallow its importation into the United States--and Virginia Woolf was moved to decry James Joyce's "cloacal obsession". None of these descriptions, 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 its own 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 astonishing 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 could 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 inforgettable Dubliners. We watch them teach, eat, loiter, 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 accordion-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 naïve 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

Review

'His standing is second to none among writers of our own century. He was witty, difficult, subtle and perhaps the greatest genius among the many who have come from Ireland to bewilder the world with the magic of art.' --Irish Independent

"Ulysses will immortalize its author with the same certainty that "Gargantua" immortalized Rabelais, and "The Brothers Karamazov" immortalized Dostoyevsky.... It comes nearer to being the perfect revelation of a personality than any book in existence."
-"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."
-Arnold Bennett
"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"

"From the Hardcover edition." --Edmund Wilson, in "The New Republic"

"From the Hardcover edition."

The unabridged audiobook of Ulysses is atmospherically produced: it begins with waves and soft piano. Then comes the honey-warm voice of Jim Norton: Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather . . . I was hooked --Christina Hardyment, The Times --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.


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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

165 of 175 people found the following review helpful By Depressaholic on 27 July 2004
Format: Paperback
So much has been written about this book in the past eighty years that its reputation alone is enough to dissuade some readers. I think that the reviews printed here reflect the balance of opinion about it, both why it is so revered and why some describe it as being unreadable. For what it is worth, 'Ulysses' is, for me, one of the most sublime monuments in world literature, a book unlike any other, and one that deserves a place among the very small number of classics that should be enjoyed for centuries to come. However, I do understand those that have struggled and failed with it.
Firstly, to like this book is not 'pretentious'. It is perhaps my pretension that made me read it and want to understand it to begin with, but certainly not my pretension that made me enjoy it. These are not to be confused. Secondly, it is 'difficult'. If someone tells you otherwise, I would like to know what they are comparing it to. Joyce's language is convoluted and obscure, and often important events are referred to so obliquely that they bypassed me if my attention was wandering. I have read the book twice and realised that I missed much the first time round. However, the rewards for sticking with it are huge. Thirdly, don't let the scholarly dissection of the book put you off. There are a lot of themes underpinning the book, not least the explicit parallels with the 'Odyssey' and the slightly more implicit theme of the relationships between fathers and sons (paralleled by a reference to Hamlet that runs through the book). However, it would be wrong to view 'Ulysses' as some sort of puzzle to be solved. It is, very simply, a book about a man (Bloom/Daedalus/Joyce) and about Ireland in 1904. For all its scholarly overtones it is about a day in the life of an everyman.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By animalimitata on 17 Jun. 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
Sadly there are major errors in the transcription. For example, Buck Mulligan's Ballad of Joking Jesus is missing, as are other pieces of indented quotation. I haven't looked any further. Another unreliable kindle text. Unreliable reviewers, too, who appear not to have noticed.
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103 of 110 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 1 Jun. 1999
Format: Paperback
Nearly everybody knows about Joyce's extravagant depiction of one day in early 20th century Dublin, and almost nobody has actually read it (unless forced to do so at school).
The length of the book, the legendary "difficulty" of the English, even the lack of punctuation, all serve to make most potential readers queasy. This perception is enhanced by the enormous volume of secondary writing on the book and Joyce himself. Everything about the text seems to be a license for academics to be pretentious and superiour. Read Ulysses for pleasure? Are you mad? Have you been down the pub with Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus?
As far as I am aware, I am neither mad nor drunk, but I do recommend holding one's literary breath and plunging into this masterpiece.
This book is truly an extraordinary novel. Joyce is a master at depicting and analysing mankind. His ability to describe human emotions on both a concious and sub-concious level is amazing. I am not saying it is easy. To be honest, there are large parts of the book that even after re-reading are way over my head, but too many believe that the book is beyond them. One should not focus on the bad, but the good, and the overall effect of the novel is nothing short of awesome.
So go on, ignore the stigma and the prejudice.
Read Ulysses, for fun.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By H. Ashford VINE VOICE on 11 Feb. 2012
Format: Audio CD Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I read a lot of British and Irish classics in my teens and twenties, but am ashamed to say that, somehow, I missed James Joyce's books. So I requested this audio adaptation with the intention of redressing the balance, and also hoping that I would find the "dramatised reading" more accessible / easier to digest than reading the novel in book format.

This BBC Radio 4 production is described as a "dramatised reading"; neither the Amazon product description, nor the CD box say whether it is abridged or not, but going by the fact that there are only 8 CDs and the book is over 700 pages long, I have to assume it is.

Seamus Heaney's enthusiastic introduction whetted my appetite, and I eagerly started listening. However, I struggled with the lack of any apparent plot and the convoluted randomness of the prose. It wasn't so much the "stream of consciousness" style that got to me, but that I would find myself thinking "why am I listening to this?" & "how does it relate to the last bit?".

I didn't expect it to come easy (everyone knows Ulysses is a challenge), and audio isn't always the easiest medium, so I listened to every section several times. That did give me a sense of being there - Joyce can certainly paint wonderful word pictures - but I have to admit, that sadly, I gave up half way through when I realised that I was avoiding picking up my ipod!

I don't think I would criticise the BBC Radio 4 production - which was superbly professional (as you would expect from the BBC) - or the reading. And this is why I have given it 2*s rather than one. What I will say, however, is that I don't think this is the easiest way for someone who hasn't read Joyce at all (and who isn't particularly familiar with Homer's Odyssey either) to approach this book. But, as one of the other reviewers has said, I think this audio presentation will make a brilliant companion to the book.
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