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Ulysses (Penguin Modern Classics) [Paperback]

James Joyce , Declan Kiberd
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (201 customer reviews)
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Book Description

30 Mar 2000 Penguin Modern Classics

A modernist novel of supreme stylistic innovation, James Joyce's Ulysses is the towering achievement of twentieth century literature. This Penguin Modern Classics edition includes an introduction by Declan Kiberd.

For Joyce, literature 'is the eternal affirmation of the spirit of man'. Written between 1914 and 1921, Ulysses has survived bowdlerization, legal action and bitter controversy. Capturing a single day in the life of Dubliner Leopold Bloom, his friends Buck Mulligan and Stephen Dedalus, his wife Molly, and a scintillating cast of supporting characters, Joyce pushes Celtic lyricism and vulgarity to splendid extremes. An undisputed modernist classic, its ceaseless verbal inventiveness and astonishingly wide-ranging allusions confirm its standing as an imperishable monument to the human condition. Declan Kilberd says in his introduction that Ulysses is 'an endlessly open book of utopian epiphanies. It holds a mirror up to the colonial capital that was Dublin on 16 June 1904, but it also offers redemptive glimpses of a future world which might be made over in terms of those utopian moments.'

This edition is the standard Random House/Bodley Head text that first appeared in 1960.

James Joyce (1882–1941), the eldest of ten children, was born in Dublin, but exiled himself to Paris at twenty as a rebellion against his upbringing. He only returned to Ireland briefly from the continent but Dublin was at heart of his greatest works, Ulysses and Finnegans Wake. He lived in poverty until the last ten years of his life and was plagued by near blindness and the grief of his daughter's mental illness.

If you enjoyed Ulysses, you might enjoy Virginia Woolf's Mrs Dalloway, also available in Penguin Classics.

'Everybody knows now that Ulysses is the greatest novel of the twentieth century'
  Anthony Burgess, Observer

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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: 12.9 x 4.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (201 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 41,267 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


given that Ulysses has been so commented on and the text even messed about with in some editions, many will be glad of the opportunity to read the book as Joyce intended

(Books Ireland)

very agreeable and pleasing to handle

(Books Ireland)

[the illustrations] are homely and quite evocative representations that do not overshadow the text … they are actually company for the reader and leave room for the imagination to breathe freely

(Books Ireland) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
150 of 158 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique, incredible, momentous...and difficult 27 July 2004
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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98 of 105 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
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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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars No Notes?! 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!) will need to access the notes several times before page 2, so it should soon become obvious which is most helpful version for you... if you are average...
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116 of 131 people found the following review helpful
People approaching Ulysses for the first time should be aware that this particular edition, the so-called "Corrected Text" is a strange beast, created as the work was approaching the end of its term of copyright to ensure that a new copyright could be created and thus control be maintained over the cash flow from the book well into the 21st century. To this end, the text needed to be significantly different to the previous "version". So up stepped Hans Walter Gabler, ready and willing to make sometimes dozens of alterations to the text on each page, "correcting" colloquial speech and making numerous other changes based upon what he has decided the author's intentions actually were.

People who wear their half-moon glasses on a little chain around their neck have been arguing about just what the "definitive" text of Ulysses might be for years, and there's no doubt that Gabler has made all of his "improvements" out of love for the material- or at least from an ambition to be pre-eminent in the notoriously and ridiculously ingrown world of Joyce studies- but it's hard to escape the conclusion that what he has done here is essentially, well, dry-humped the book.

The conceit of all this would make a fine comedy, full of the kinds of jokes that academics don't get. Joyce himself perhaps wouldn't have appreciated the humour in the idea of a bunch of idiots rewriting his book with a big payday in mind, all the while fooling themselves that they're doing it for the sake of the book. But Flann O'Brien might have.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Streaming and dreaming
I've reached 19% on my Kindle, so it's a big book! Some say it's impenetrable but so far it strikes me as a poem interrupted by a story... of sorts. Read more
Published 7 days ago by MD
2.0 out of 5 stars I couldn't finish it!
Being fom Dublin I decided I would buy this to try to understand Dublin a bit more. It went way over my head and found my mind wandering while reading this tome. Read more
Published 29 days ago by S. J. Eustace
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
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Published 2 months ago by Sean Taniane
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Book of All-time.
My favourite book of all-time, but hard to digest.
Published 2 months ago by Daniel Crossley
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent - thanks
Published 3 months ago by Cosher
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 3 months ago by lawyer from berkshire
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Wife is enjoying it. Her main reading at the moment.
Published 3 months ago by Ivan Sayer
5.0 out of 5 stars I usually have to buy a new one every 5 ...
I usually have to buy a new one every 5 years or so. Yes, I wear them out. How precious does that make me?
Published 3 months ago by E. Holmans
1.0 out of 5 stars I love Ulysses and I enjoy rereading it
Be warned: on the Kindle edition at least, this is Not Annotated – not in footnotes, nor chapter endnotes nor at the end of the book. Read more
Published 3 months ago by johnstevensjs
5.0 out of 5 stars Just read it
Ulysses was a set text on my university course and while we were given lectures, essays, and far more sources of information than we could ever read, the best bit of advice I... Read more
Published 3 months ago by CoffeeandCake
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