- Mass Market Paperback: 736 pages
- Publisher: Wordsworth Editions (5 Jan. 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1840226358
- ISBN-13: 978-1840226355
- Product Dimensions: 12.4 x 4.1 x 19.3 cm
- Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (519 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,863 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Ulysses (Wordsworth Classics) Mass Market Paperback – 5 Jan 2010
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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Ulysses will immortalize its author with the same certainty that Gargantua immortalized Rabelais, and The Brothers Karamazov immortalized Dostoyevsky.... It comes nearer to being the perfect revelation of a personality than any book in existence."
-The New York Times
"To my mind one of the most significant and beautiful books of our time."
-Gilbert Seldes, in The Nation
"Talk about understanding "feminine psychology"-- I have never read anything to surpass it, and I doubt if I have ever read anything to equal it."
"In the last pages of the book, Joyce soars to such rhapsodies of beauty as have probably never been equaled in English prose fiction."
-Edmund Wilson, in The New Republic --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
So what is it, after all?
The funniest novel ever written. The best book about adultery. The best book about sibling rivalry. The only book which reruns a country's history from the point of view of a provincial pub landlord. The best written book ever. Better than Ulysses.
Right, I'm obviously not going to precis the plot or anything. Why should you read it?
The first thing to say is that you can read Vico, Bruno the Nolan and the Four Masters if you want, but why bother? It's not an intellectual book. Joyce was clever enough, but he wasn't an intellectual. So this is not a book for intellectuals. Hardly surprising, Joyce was much more interested in the smell of dirty knickers than in philosophy.
Read it aloud in a cod Oirish accent if you want to feel the prose. Get the casettes to help you out, I have.
Read the prose from "riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recurculation back to Howth Castle and Environs." to "Given! A way a lone a last a loved a long the"
Yes it does make more sense if you reverse them. This is something you learn.
What about the first words of the most accessible section, about the Liffey. (This is a gross simplification of the theme.)
"O tell me all about Anna Livia! I want to hear all about Anna Livia. Well, you know Anna Livia? Yes, of course, we all know Anna Livia. Tell me all.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Never arrived so a waste of money. This has happened with other books I've ordered and it does say the order has been taken and the money from my account so.Published 21 hours ago by Amazon Customer
Joyce, James. Ulysses
Fifty years ago as an undergraduate I read Joyce’s novel and vowed that one day I’d read it again. Read more
This book is fantastic. I only needed to remove three pages and it fixed my wobbly table perfectly.Published 29 days ago by LazyShopper