110 of 118 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
90 of 101 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars It helps to remember that Joyce was a fan of Fantomas
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...
Published on 9 Sep 2009 by Quackser
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110 of 118 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique, incredible, momentous...and difficult,
This review is from: Ulysses (Oxford World's Classics) (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. 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.
75 of 81 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read Ulysses for fun? Are you mad? Er, well no actually,
By A Customer
This review is from: Ulysses (Twentieth Century Classics) (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.
16 of 17 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!
90 of 101 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.
26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Extraordinary Experience,
This review is from: Ulysses (Modern Classics - Unabridged) (Audio CD)Like many, I have tried reading the book and found it quite tough.Jim Norton makes the text come to life and teem with unforgettable characters. His voice is an extraordinary instrument capable of conveying every emotional nuance and moments of great humour. His reading is an amazing tour de force.He has an inexhaustible range of voices in all registers from velvety bass to falsetto. He conveys the multilayered prose with complete ease deploying many voices to convey a sense of place, inner thoughts and an astonishing cast of characters, each with a unique and distinctive timbre, register and accent.Bloom emerges as a deeply sympathetic and vulnerable human being.
Marcella Riordan is also marvellous as Molly. She is vividly realised and her soliloquy becomes a fascinating and erotic experience. Despite their considerable length, I have already enjoyed these discs several times and find each repetition more illuminating.I now understand why this book has achieved its legendary status. This reading is, perhaps, the most remarkable piece of storytelling I have ever heard.
51 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Twenty years after,
By A Customer
This review is from: Ulysses (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)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.
50 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Re-Joyce!,
This review is from: Ulysses (Modern Classics - Unabridged) (Audio CD)This is an astounding tour de force. Ulysses is a notoriously difficult read but, when listening to this, one is simply swept along, unconcerned about such difficulties as foreign-language quotations, obscure allusions, opaque puns, crazy word-games etc. On the printed page, such things are frustrating for the reader, who feels ill-inclined to continue with a book which he or she doesn't fully undertand. But this brilliant reading places such difficulites in their proper perspective.
For me, this reading revealed the humour of the book for the first time. The Aeolus episode had me in stitches; the Cyclops episode and the end of Circe made me literally cry with laughter. And, in this reading, the very ending of the novel, with its great surge of warmth and love, is almost overwhelming.
One could quibble about the occasional pronunciation. And maybe Marcella Riordan, who reads Molly Bloom, could somehow have suggested the total lack of punctuation in the final Penelope episode. (Yes, I appreciate that the poor woman has got to breathe...!) But these are minor quibbles. The reading(s), production and presentation are all absolutely first rate. I hope this splendid recording will win new admirers for this great masterpiece.
Norton and Riordan have also recorded a very abridged Finnegans Wake. Let us hope that someday they - and Naxos - will give us the whole thing.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Last a Man a Lifetime,
This review is from: Ulysses (Classics) (Wordsworth Classics) (Paperback)Few books have provoked as much balderdash as this marvellous account of a day's drinking and self-pleasuring in Dublin. Forget highbrow criticism, religion, politics, medicine, childbirth, death and journalism, just shave, sit on the toilet for an early and satisfying defecation, make sure you get to your pal's funeral on time and then get down the pub. Mine's a pint of the dark stuff with a Jamesons chaser. Mind the time, mind, if you're out late because, miss the last bus, and you never know who you'll meet in the night shelter and what the wife's thinking as she lies in bed half-awake. And think what tomorrow may bring (Finnegans Wake)! Writing doesn't come finer and more alive-alive-o than this.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars No Notes?!,
Amazon Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Ulysses (Classics) (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.
47 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Is it worth it?,
This review is from: Ulysses (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)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.
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Ulysses (Classics) (Wordsworth Classics) by James Joyce (Paperback - 15 Jan 2010)