165 of 175 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique, incredible, momentous...and difficult
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...
Published on 27 July 2004 by Depressaholic
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Major errors in text
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.
Published on 17 Jun. 2012 by animalimitata
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A momentous edition,
This review is from: Ulysses (Alma Classics) (Hardcover)
I have been reading Ulysses now for the best part of 40 years and have a number of editions on my bookshelf from the two volume Odyssey Press edition (2nd edition 1933) to this one. I have no doubt that this is the edition to have whether reading it for the 1st or 40th time. The annotations are superb; Sam Slote, at last, picks up on the apparent errors regarding the death of Mrs Sinico and the bee sting but oddly misses the error regarding the colours of Miss Douce's and Miss Kennedy's hair in Wandering Rocks. On p.180 we read "Bronze by gold, Miss Kennedy's head by Miss Douce's head, appeared above the cross blind of the Ormond Hotel". It is however Miss Douce who is bronze (Bronze Lydia (Douce)) and Miss Kennedy (Gold Mina) who is gold. Oddly the note refers the reader to the note on p.188/1 where the hair colours are correct but no comment is made. Does anyone know what Joyce's manuscript says at the point in W.R.? That said the annotations are nothing short of excellent and add a new dimension to the reading of the novel. However many editions you may own this is essential and the one to have and read/reread. It sets a new level in scholarly commentary on the novel.
25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's a Classic,
This review is from: Ulysses (Illustrated Edition) (Kindle Edition)
I have been through a few Kindle versions of Ulysees now but have given up on each after a chapter or so due to poor formatting or missing/jumbled text. I was about to give up on counting it in my library until I saw this version and for the sake of a quid - thought I'd give it a try. And I'm pleased I did. It is presented perfectly and if you are going to attempt this goliath of a book on your Kindle then you'd be hard-pushed to find a more readable version. It comes with some decent original photos too - but more importantly, it is true to the print version and set out as it should be for Kindle - with menus that actually work and page breaks where they should be. Everyone should at least try to read Ulysees in their lifetime - give it a go!
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best edition yet,
This review is from: Finnegans Wake (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)
Joyce's last great work is a 628 page book of comic prose, written in a language that shares some elements with English as we know it, but relies heavily on multilingual puns and other effects that make it seem at first wholly impenetrable. The clues are there, however, and since the book's publication in 1939 a dedicated following of Joyce scholars have set out to elucidate its many difficulties.
This edition, in Oxford World's Classics, is the most helpful that I have found so far. Having tried the Faber (small print, no introduction), the Penguin (good introduction by Seamus Deane, brief chapter summaries) and the Restored (baffling introductory and afterword texts, questionable repagination), I've been enjoying Finn Fordham et al's expert handling of the text in this Oxford edition. The chapter summaries are particularly helpful, and no reader will want to be without them. More succinct than Campbell or Tindall, and inevitably less thorough than McHugh's 'Annotations', the Oxford edition is surely the quickest way into this deeply puzzling text.
As Anthony Burgess said about Jeri Johnson's superb edition of 'Ulysses' in its 1922 text (also in the OWC series), "this is the one to get".
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars In two minds...,
I'm in two minds about this book.
On the one hand, this is quite obviously a work of genius at some level, full of beautiful poetry, humour and truth about the human condition, all filled into a day in the life of the two (or three including the last chapter) main narrators.
On the other hand, there are so many allusions to things the average reader will be ignorant of as to render meaningless, which allied to the difficult narrative makes this a highly frustrating read.
In trying to understand parts of the novel that passed me by, I did some literary research and discovered the amazing depth this novel. Each chapter for example (apparantly!) has a theme based on colour and body part, and for this to be successfully woven into a story is a great achievement. The different styles and techniques used to tell the story is also highly impressive, while at the same time adding to the difficulty of the read.
The book is full of riddles and puzzles, some of which the answers to remain elusive to minds greater than mine. And there-in lies the problem; who has the time to spend reading and re-reading a book that is already close to a thousand pages long in order to fully understand it?
I have given this four stars rather than anything lower (and I very nearly did), to acknowledge that many of the problems of this book are down to the ignorance and lack of patience (or intelligence) of the reader, and indeed there are parts that are genuinely enjoyable through being funny, truthful or touched by genius.
However the nagging doubt remains that this book and the praise it has engendered is a partial case of the emperor's new clothes (and indeed the same could be said of modernism as a whole). At the very least, it seems that in being so tremendously ambitious, Joyce fell slightly short, as he himself is known to have admitted.
52 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Is it worth it?,
This is the most important question for those who have yet to dip their toes in this 'difficult classic' - they may have read 'Dubliners' or 'A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man' but find 'Ulysses' daunting.
Well, yes - it is worth the trouble, and the trouble may be less than you think and the effort more fun than you imagined. This book is very funny and very beautiful.
The book concerns a day in the life of Stephen Dedalus young would be writer and Leopold Bloom middle aged advertising space salesman, with the final chapter being given to the nocturnal thoughts of Bloom's unfaithful wife,Molly. During the day Bloom attends a funeral, faces down a racist bigot, masturbates and saves a drunken Stephen from two British soldiers before taking him home. The books famed mythic parallels, it's symbolism, puzzles, allusions etc are all very well when one has made some headway into the book - and it is a book one goes back to, but the nervous reader is more concerned with its difficulty.
The simple answer is not to get too bogged down when one does not understand something. Skip with impunity. Do not give up stumped at chapter three - we've all been there and it is worth pressing on. The difficulty lies partly with Joyce's 'internal monologue' technique particularly when the thoughts being set down in this abbreviated form are those of the erudite (and pretentious) Stephen - and partly (especially in the second half of the book) with the plethora of styles Joyce uses to mirror the action of the book - parody, pastiche and musical and rhythmic devices. Yet in these styles lie so many of the book's joys - one is again and again stopped in one's tracks by a perfectly shaped sentence ,a piece of intriguing wordplay or a sly shaft of wit.
If you persevere with this book you will find your own reasons for going back to it. This book in a very strange and subtle way, is a lifechanger.
53 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Twenty years after,
By A Customer
I'm just completing a re-reading of Ulysses twenty years after reading it as a student, and I'm amazed at how much I'm enjoying it. Yes, it's difficult and packed with allusions to literature, religion and philosophy that I've no idea about. But the sheer poetry of the writing, the humour and the inclusive passion for experience and existence, thought and emotion, have carried me over the difficult passages. 80 years after it was written there's still nothing to compare with Ulysses in its daring, scope and formal experimentation. If you want to understand the modern novel at all, start here.
116 of 132 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars It helps to remember that Joyce was a fan of Fantomas,
This review is from: Ulysses: Corrected Text (Paperback)
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.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Great Universal Urban Novel,
This review is from: Ulysses (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)
Irish dramatists have recently been criticised for continuing to focus on the stereotype stage-Oirish rural Catholic family à la Synge and ignoring the trendy urban wanabees of today who more closely resemble their cousins in Mannheim, Milan or Manchester.
I'm not sure what they're saying about the novelists but apart from McGahern's books they all seem to be about people living in apartments in Dublin 4. Maybe that's because James Joyce was the man who invented the Great Universal Urban Novel by publishing Ulysses back in 1922.
Dublin on 16th June 1904 (the location and date of 'Ulysses') was far more sophisticated and 'multicultural' than it was to be at any time again up to the mid 1990s - that world was banjaxed by the likes of the Legion of Mary and an extreme Catholic Jansenism and isolation that set in with Independence in 1922. (On the negative side Dublin back then also had a third world type gap between rich and poor - with a rate of infant mortality only exceeded in the British Empire by Calcutta).
Ulysses ranges over a plethora of modern sounding topics: relationships, sex, the press, publicity and advertising, popular culture and music, adultery, nationalist posturing and political cynicism, alienation, racial and ethnic prejudice, technology and consumerism - to name just a few. The book's two major characters are both outsiders in the traditional Irish sense - Leopold Bloom is a Jew and Stephen Dedalus a disaffected and now agnostic Catholic.
Joyce does it all in deadpan comic fashion interspersed with parodies of other writers' style. He employs all kinds of cinematic techniques with flashbacks, dissolves and close ups (Joyce was very interested in film and actually opened Dublin's first cinema - the Volta - in 1909, but he didn't prove a great entrepreneur). The technique par excellence in Ulysses is the 'stream of consciousness' e.g. of Molly (Mrs Bloom) in the famously dirty last chapter - Joyce admitted he actually got this technique from an obscure French writer.
If you haven't read Ulysses yet don't be put off by it's hearsay reputation of difficulty - apart from a small number of passages it's easier than many literary modern novels - let me give Captain Corelli's Mandolin as an example - don't confuse it with Finnegans Wake which is another matter altogether. There's lots of excellent stuff on the internet to help you but one thing you'll need to do is to get hold of a good map of Dublin.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't be intimidated; just read it!,
It's a daunting and difficult prospect, contemplating the reading of ULYSSES. Much like Proust's IN SEARCH OF LOST TIME, this is a book more quoted than read. It comes freighted with the most serious of professorial endorsements and a reputation for `difficulty' hardly belied by its length.
Does it justify its reputation as difficult? Yes. Does that hamper one's enjoyment reading it? Hardly at all. Jonathan Franzen's intervention in a debate about the differences between obtuse and clear writing is hardly helpful when considering ULYSSES. There should be a place for the products of literature, as for any art form, which requires the active participation of a reader, without succumbing to the charge of `elitism'. Most great writers teach their readers how to read. The same applies to Joyce and ULYSSES (does the same apply to FINNEGAN'S WAKE? I don't know. I'm too scared to read it ...).
My advice to any would-be reader - don't be intimidated by this book's reputation. Don't worry if at points, you find yourself confused or lost. Yes, there's a chapter in which Joyce recapitulates the evolution of written English to mirror embryonic development in humans. And yes, the chapter commonly known as `Circe' is a bit long-winded. Despite that, the novel is a joy to read and to spend time with. Joyce's concerns in writing one day in the life of Leopold Bloom are life-fulfilling. There is tremendous joy, wit, fun and compassion in his portrayal of this most (un?)usual of heroes. It may help to avail yourself of the many resources available on the web. I found a lengthy précis of each chapter particularly helpful at the start of my journey; and found that, about half-way through the book, I didn't need it any more. It is true that Joyce relied on allusions and references that are now all-but-lost to any modern reader. Again, don't worry. Any annotated edition will carry you through; and/or you'll find that the need to know each reference declines the further you journey along with Bloom.
Have courage and you'll be rewarded. The book is life-affirming and very down-to-earth in its concerns. Joyce borrows the structure of Homer's epic in order to lampoon its myth-making and to play with its martial obsessions. Bloom is no hero. And that's the point.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mkgnao!,
This review is from: Ulysses (BBC Radio) (Audio CD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is an 8 disc set of the Radio 4 reading / dramatisation of James Joyce's modernist monument which was first broadcast in the summer of 1991. Stephen Rea (who played Bloom in the film version titled Bloom) here reads the Dedalus chapters and Norman Rodway voices the Bloom chapters while Sinead Cusack breathes life into Molly.
Some chapters, notably Circe, are `dramatised' rather than straight readings, in that other voices than Rea's, Rodway's or Cusack's are used. Naturally the text has been abridged but usually this has been done with great skill though I suppose some may find favourite phrases or elements missing. I was surprised, for example, that the final accusatory "Usurper" was missing from Telemachus.
More surprisingly the order of the first few chapters has been tinkered with, presumably to introduce us to Bloom and Molly earlier in the proceedings. Episode 1 here matches the opening Telemachus section but then Episode 2 skips the following Nestor and Proteus sections to go directly to the Bloom focused Calypso which is the 4th `chapter' in the book. Episode 3 then goes back to Nestor and Proteus.
Thereafter the order is maintained, though this sort of tinkering is to be expected in any dramatisation so there's no point getting too uptight about it. If you object to that sort of thing then just stick with the book - I've no patience with those who insist on absolute, puritanically observed adaptations that maintain total adherence to the original. What's the point? That's not to say that this is unfaithful to the text.
The readings are vivid and alert, the dramatisations bring the characters to roaring, bellowing, scornful, mournful, lusting, regretful, boasting, shame-faced life. I'm not a Joyce scholar, but I've lived with the book all my life and while large parts of it still elude me, and probably always will - Oxen of the Sun, Eumaeus, I'm looking at you in particular - I still love the book, partly for the glories of the language, and certain favourite chapters and passages, partly for its elusiveness (though I'm fairly sure I've cracked one reference in Lestrygonians that I've not seen elucidated anywhere else (not in Gifford's Ulysses Annotated anyway), and partly for its difficulty, it's challenge, the opportunity to always find something new each time you open it.
I did find this dramatisation easier to follow with the text at hand, though one needs to be fleet of finger to be able to track it through the abridgements. If listening to it without the novel unless the passages were really familiar, I did occasionally drift off - the spoken language not overcoming the deliberate tests that Joyce seemed to set on the reader's boredom threshhold, even when excerpted.
While Ulysses is a novel and not intended necessarily to be acted, like Shakespeare, it benefits from being read out loud, so that what can be obscure or inexplicable on the page suddenly becomes intelligible when spoken. If you have grappled and failed with Ulysses but wish to persist this may an alternative way in, or if you already love the book or want to love it more this version is worth your while. Yes, I said yes - it is.(Sorry, too hard to resist.)
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Ulysses (Oxford World's Classics) by James Joyce (Paperback - 7 May 1998)
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