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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 (306 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 108,365 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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

'one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century ... this edition, complete with an invaluable Introduction, map of Dublin, notes, and appendices, republishes for the first time, without interference, the original 1922 text.'In Dublin

'After more than seventy years of editorial corrections, specialists will buy the 'uncorrected' edition for its accuracy. Others should choose it as much for Johnson's excellent introduction and notes.'Tim Kendall. Hertford College, Oxford. Notes and Queries

For anyone coming to this 20th century classic for the first time, this paperback version could well make the going a little easier. (Lancashire Evening Post (Preston))

Already got a copy of Ulysses. Well, chuck it out and get this ... this is the one, a reproduction of the original 1922 Shakespeare & Co edition ... has extensive notes at the back to explain references and correct gaffes ... Also astonishingly cheap. (Nicholas Lezard, The Guardian)

now the cheapest annotated paperback available and comes with a splendid introduction from Jeri Johnson, a map of contemporary Dublin, and a comprehensive set of explanatory notes ... As such, it should appeal both to those who are familiar with Joyce's book, and those who are approaching it for the first time. (Yorkshire Post (Leeds))

hilarious, poignant, exhilarating ... The excellent guide, editor Jeri Johnson, refuses to allow short cuts for first-time travellers ... The detailed notes are useful ... the ideal way to set off on your personal odyssey. (The Times)

For anyone coming to this 20th century classic for the first time, this paperback version could well make the going a little easier. (West Lancashire Evening Gazette)

For anyone coming to this 20th Century classic for the first time, this paperback version could well make the going a little easier. (Yorkshire Evening Post (Leeds) Midweek section, 9 July 1997) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

112 of 119 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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172 of 184 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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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By William Shardlow on 4 Mar. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I recently read Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Wordsworth Classics)and was very impressed with the notes. I found they gave just enough information to help me understand the text, but not enough to interrupt the flow of reading. I can't imagine a better version for the everyday reader. I have had similar experiences with many other novels that Wordsworth publish.

Ulysses is probably more in need of notes than any other novel, so I thought, "Wordsworth are bound to have their usual nice notes...", when I ordered it. Imagine my disappointment when I found they provided no notes at all! I'd held off buying another version with notes until this was published because I like the Wordsworth price & font. But, for Ulysses, notes are by far the most essential attribute!

I will now have to buy either Ulysses: The 1922 text (Oxford World's Classics) or Ulysses (Penguin Modern Classics). These are the only versions I know of that have notes. They also have 'look inside' enabled. I recommend that anyone start reading at page 1 in 'look inside' and see which one has the most helpful notes for them. Try and see them in a bookshop or library if you can, so you can judge their physical layout -- Oxford use a small print size, which I can just about manage, but it's definitely a negative.

The average reader (i.e., readers like me!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By MzBookMuncher on 29 Oct. 2013
Format: Paperback
I put off reading this book for so long - years. Then, I heard that it was going to be dramatised for BBC radio 4 for Bloomsday 2012. So I thought I better get reading. It took me two months to get through it, but I'm really glad I did. I found that I had to change the way I normally read a book, but I found that challenging in an interesting way. If I let my mind slip in and out of focus, the prose would pull me along - a bit like how you would listen to music. Because Ulysses really is a literary symphony. It is everything that has been said before and well worth the effort. I listened to the dramatisation afterwards and was really pleased that I had read the book first.

It is a real doorstopper of a book. One of the actors in the dramatisation, Andrew Scott, said don't be put off by how long it is, it is about what it is to be human. And that is pretty accurate, I think.

I didn't read it with any 'reader' accompaniment (just because I didn't want to) and I didn't read it with the Odyssey in mind (just because I read the Odyssey so long ago and it isn't fresh in my mind).

However, if you don't like long and difficult reads, this book is very much not for you.
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