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Customer Review

on 2 January 2010
You may think this good, you may think this bad, but you won't know till you try.
After all not everybody likes chocolate (would you believe).
For my part I thought it the hardest thing I've ever done and by far the most rewarding.
I felt that I had an education in its pages, and as to it being for literary snobs - I can promise you Ulysses has more to offer the Undergraduate than the Professor.
Most chapters require research into different areas of the arts such as music, rhetoric, literature etc., so much so that by the end I felt as though I had also completed an introductory course in a classical education.
My top Ulysses reading tips (for the unclassically educated):
- Put aside at least 3 months - remember Joyce worked on this for 8 years.
- Get a guide or 2 or 3 (don't be a cyclops - the more eyes the better), not just annotated notes (Bloomsday Book, Spark Notes etc). I can recommend the Teaching Company's 24 audio lecture series and the Cambridge Companion to James Joyce.
- Print out a character list or write one yourself (The Dubliners and The Portrait are good sources for this), as Joyce provides very little exposition within Ulysses.
- Read The Portrait of The Artist as a Young Man and The Dubliners.
- Read the Odyssey (and possibly the Iliad).
- Read Hamlet, be familiar with The Tempest and The Winter's Tale.
- Read the Gospel of Matthew (lets face it - the whole bible is useful esp: Genesis, Job, Elijah, Corinthans)and have a basic understanding of Catholism and the mass.
- The reading of: Shelley's Prometheus Unbound, Dante's Inferno and Milton's Paradise Lost is an advantage as is a familiarity with Dickens, Defoe, Plato and Aristotle.
- Be prepared to do a little research into irish folk song, music hall, opera and operatic proceedures in music such as the sonata form.
- Be prepared to stop and read other sources referenced as and when you feel the need. Its possible (I suppose) to aquire many of Joyces references second hand through annotation sources but you're just mugging yourself if you do.
- Be prepared to read through the whole thing again at the end - much like the Old Testament, Ulysses cannot be read, only re-read.
Good Luck and Happy Sailing!
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