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156 of 165 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

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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars No Notes?!
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...
Published on 4 Mar 2010 by William Shardlow


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156 of 165 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. He isn't a hero, he doesn't save the world or fight the bad guy and, paradoxically, this should make it more, not less, accessible to most readers. If you are able to overcome the complex structure (which becomes one of the book's joys, honest) and lack of plot then the odyssey through a single day and a single language, and a single city becomes the most incredible journey in literature. I have read it twice, and both times I was unable to out the book out of my head for several days after I had out it down. It felt more like having an important life moment than simply reading a book. I read a lot, but only a couple of books make me feel this way, and this is one. If this (admittedly pretentious sounding) review doesn't put you off, then please make the effort to read this book. It really is worth it.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best edition yet, 13 Oct 2013
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".
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98 of 105 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read Ulysses for fun? Are you mad? Er, well no actually, 1 Jun 1999
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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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars No Notes?!, 4 Mar 2010
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This review is from: Ulysses (Wordsworth Classics) (Paperback)
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...

Update: Do you know what ouns (mentioned on page 1) are? Neither do I. Penguin's supposedly annotated edition doesn't bother to tell you, Oxford does. And it's a lot less expensive! I think my buying decision is made... see my (upcoming!) review of the Oxford edition to see if it holds up to more detailed scrutiny.
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116 of 131 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars It helps to remember that Joyce was a fan of Fantomas, 9 Sep 2009
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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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's a Classic, 1 Mar 2012
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!
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars In two minds..., 10 Feb 2008
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.
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51 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Twenty years after, 2 Feb 2003
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.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Great Universal Urban Novel, 5 Dec 2003
By 
Amazon Customer (Walton-on-Thames, Surrey England) - See all my reviews
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.
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49 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Is it worth it?, 13 Oct 2002
By 
J. Skade "joeskade" (London, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
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.
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Ulysses (Wordsworth Classics)
Ulysses (Wordsworth Classics) by James Joyce (Paperback - 5 Jan 2010)
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