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Ulysses is a novel by James Joyce, first serialized in parts in the American journal The Little Review from March 1918 to December 1920, then published in its entirety by Sylvia Beach on February 2, 1922, in Paris. One of the most important works of Modernist literature, it has been called "a demonstration and summation of the entire movement".

Ulysses chronicles the passage of Leopold Bloom through Dublinmarker during an ordinary day, June 16, 1904. The title parallels and alludes to Odysseus (Latinised into Ulysses), the hero of Homer's Odyssey (e.g., the correspondences between Leopold Bloom and Odysseus, Molly Bloom and Penelope, and Stephen Dedalus and Telemachus). Joyce fans worldwide now celebrate June 16 as Bloomsday.

Ulysses totals about 265,000 words from a vocabulary of 30,030 words (including proper names, plurals and various verb tenses), divided into 18 "episodes". Since publication, the book attracted controversy and scrutiny, ranging from early obscenity trials to protracted textual "Joyce Wars." Ulysses' stream-of-consciousness technique, careful structuring, and experimental prose—full of puns, parodies, and allusions, as well as its rich characterisations and broad humour, made the book a highly regarded novel in the Modernist pantheon. In 1999, the Modern Library ranked Ulysses first on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.


Joyce first encountered Odysseus in Charles Lamb's Adventures of Ulysses - an adaptation of the Odyssey for children, which seemed to establish the Roman name in Joyce's mind. At school he wrote an essay on Ulysses as his 'favourite hero'. Joyce told Frank Budgen that he considered Ulysses the only all-round character in literature. He thought about calling Dubliners by the name Ulysses in Dublin, but the idea grew from a story in Dubliners in 1906, to a 'short book' in 1907, to the vast novel which he began writing in 1914.


Joyce divided Ulysses into eighteen chapters or "episodes". At first glance much of the book may appear unstructured and chaotic; Joyce once said that he had "put in so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant", which would earn the novel "immortality". The two schemata which Stuart Gilbert and Herbert Gorman released after publication to defend Joyce from the obscenity accusations made the links to the Odyssey clear, and also explained the work's internal structure.

Every episode of Ulysses has a theme, technique, and correspondences between its characters and those of the Odyssey. The original text did not include these episode titles and the correspondences; instead, they originate from the Linati and Gilbert schema. Joyce referred to the episodes by their Homeric titles in his letters. He took the titles from Victor Bérard's two-volume Les Phéniciens et l’Odyssée which he consulted in 1918 in the Zentralbibliothek of Zürich. Bérard's book served as the source of Joyce's idiosyncratic rendering of some of the Homeric titles: 'Nausikaa', the 'Telemachia'.

Part I: The Telemachiad

Episode 1, Telemachus

It is 8 a.m. on the morning of 16 June 1904 (the day Joyce first formally started courting Nora Barnacle). Buck Mulligan (a callous, verbally aggressive and boisterous medical student) calls Stephen Dedalus (a young writer first encountered in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man) up to the roof of the Martello tower, Sandycovemarker, overlooking Dublinmarker bay. Stephen does not respond to Mulligan's aggressive and intrusive jokes. Stephen is focused on, and initially disdainful toward Haines (a nondescript, anti-Semitic Englishman from Oxfordmarker), whom Buck Mulligan invited around. Stephen's annoyance stems from the intrusion, as he was disturbed the previous night by Haines ranting in his sleep.

Mulligan and Dedalus proceed to look out over the sea, and Stephen is reminded of his deceased mother, for whom he is visibly still in mourning. This, and Stephen's refusal to pray at his mother's deathbed, remains an issue of some contention between the two. Stephen reveals that he once overheard Buck referring to his mother as "beastly dead." When faced with this, Buck makes a brief attempt to defend himself, but gives up shortly. He shaves and prepares breakfast, then all three eat. Buck then departs, and sings to himself, unknowingly, the song that Stephen once sang to his dying mother.

Later, Haines and Stephen walk down to the water, where Buck and his companions are swimming. We here learn that Buck has an absent friend from Westmeathmarker who has a yet-unnamed girlfriend. Stephen declares his intention to depart, and Buck demands the house key and to be lent money. Departing, Stephen declares that he will not return to the tower tonight, citing Buck as a "Usurper."

Episode 2, Nestor

Stephen is teaching a history class on the victories of Pyrrhus of Epirus. The class is visibly bored, unconcerned with the subject and not disciplined. Before seeing the boys out of the classroom, Stephen tells the students a cryptic and impenetrable riddle about a fox burying his grandmother under a bush, which falls flat. One student, Sargent, stays behind so that Stephen can show him how to do a set of arithmetic exercises. Stephen indulges him, but looks at the aesthetically unappealing Sargent and tries to imagine Sargent's mother's love for him. Afterwards, Stephen visits the anti-Semitic school headmaster, Mr. Deasy, from whom he collects his pay and a letter to take to a newspaper office for printing. Deasy lectures Stephen on the satisfaction of money earned and the importance of efficient money management. This scene is the source of some of the novel's most famous lines, such as Dedalus's claim that "history is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake" and that God is "a shout in the street." He rejects Deasy's biased recollection of past events, which he uses to justify his prejudices. At the end of this episode, Deasy makes another incendiary remark against the Jews, stating that Ireland has never extensively persecuted the Jews because they were never let in to the country.

Episode 3, Proteus

In this chapter, characterized by its stream of consciousness narrative style, the action is presented to the reader through the prism of Stephen's interior monologue. He finds his way to Sandymount Strandmarker and mopes around for some time, mulling various philosophical concepts, his family, his life as a student in Paris, and again, his mother's death. As Stephen reminisces and ponders, he lies down among some rocks, watches a couple and a dog, writes some poetry ideas, picks his nose, and urinates behind a rock.

Part II: The Odyssey

Episode 4, Calypso

The narrative shifts abruptly. The time is again 8 a.m., but the action has moved across the city to Eccles Street and to the second protagonist of the book, Leopold Bloom, a part-Jewish advertising canvasser. Bloom lives at No. 7 Eccles Street and is preparing breakfast at the same time as Mulligan in the tower. He walks to a butcher to purchase a pork kidney for his breakfast and returns to finish his cooking. He brings breakfast and the mail to his wife Molly, whose given name is Marion. He reads his own letter from their daughter, Milly. The chapter closes with his plodding to the outhouse and defecating.

Episode 5, The Lotus Eaters

Bloom now begins his day proper, furtively making his way to a post office (by an intentionally indirect route), where he receives a love letter from one 'Martha Clifford' addressed to his pseudonym, 'Henry Flower'. He buys a newspaper and meets an acquaintance, C. P. M'Coy; while they chat, Bloom attempts to ogle a woman wearing stockings, but is prevented by a passing tram. Next, he reads the letter and tears up the envelope in an alley. He makes his exit via a Catholic church service and thinks about what is going on inside it. He goes to a chemist, then meets another acquaintance, Bantam Lyons, to whom he unintentionally gives a racing tip for the horse Throwaway. Finally, Bloom visits the baths to wash for the rest of the day.

Episode 6, Hades

The episode begins with Bloom entering a funeral carriage with three others, including Stephen's father Simon Dedalus. They make their way to Paddy Dignam's funeral, passing Stephen and making small talk on the way. Bloom scans his newspaper. There is discussion of various deaths, forms of death, and the tram-line before arriving and getting out. They enter the chapel into the service and subsequently leave with the coffin cart. Bloom sees a mysterious man wearing a mackintosh during the burial and reflects upon various subjects. Leaving, he points out a dent in a friend's hat.

Episode 7, Aeolus

At the newspaper office, Bloom attempts to place an ad, while Stephen arrives bringing Deasy's letter about 'foot and mouth' disease. The two do not meet. Bloom notices a worker typesetting an article in backwards print, and this reminds him of his father reading the Haggadah of Pesach (written in Hebrew, read from right to left). The episode is broken up into short sections by newspaper-style headlines, and is characterized by a deliberate abundance of rhetorical figures and devices. Lenehan appears in this section.

Episode 8, The Laestrygonians

Most of this episode is Bloom's stream-of-consciousness as walks down the street, hungry, his thoughts peppered with allusions to food. During his walk, Bloom meets a former girlfriend, Josie Breen. Her husband, Mr. Breen, received an anonymous postcard in the morning, with "u.p.: up" written on it. Mr. Breen is subsequently attempting to respond with legal action.

Bloom then enters Burton's restaurant. Repulsed by the sight of people eating like animals, he makes a hasty exit heading instead to Davy Byrne's. Inside, Bloom is greeted by Nosey Flynn. Bloom consumes a gorgonzola cheese sandwich and a glass of burgundy. When Bloom leaves the restaurant, Nosey Flynn talks to other patrons about Bloom's character.

Bloom goes to the National Museum to look at the statue of Venus, and, in particular, her bottom. Bloom suddenly spots Boylan across the street. Panicked, he sharply turns into the gates of the National Museum.

Episode 9, Scylla and Charybdis

At the National Library, Stephen explains to various scholars his biographical theory of the works of Shakespeare, especially Hamlet, which he claims are based largely on the posited adultery of Shakespeare's wife, Anne Hathaway. Bloom enters the National Library to look up the Keyes ad. He only encounters Stephen briefly and unknowingly at the end of the episode. Buck Mulligan does see Bloom, however, and jokingly warns Stephen of Bloom's possible homosexuality.

Episode 10, The Wandering Rocks

In this episode, nineteen short vignettes depict the wanderings of various characters, major and minor, through the streets of Dublin. The chapter ends with an account of the cavalcade of the Lord Lieutenant, William Humble, Earl of Dudley, through the streets, where it is encountered by the various characters we have met in the episode. Neither Stephen nor Bloom sees the Viceroy's procession.

This chapter is unique in that it draws Homeric parallels to an incident that is described third-hand in the Odyssey. That is to say, the Wandering Rocks are spoken about in the Odyssey, but never experienced by its protagonist, Odysseus. This is perhaps why Joyce disembodies the narrative from the three main characters.

Episode 11, The Sirens

In this episode, dominated by motifs of music, Bloom has dinner with Stephen's uncle Richie Goulding at the Ormond Hotel, while Molly's lover, Blazes Boylan, proceeds to his rendezvous with her. While dining, Bloom watches the seductive barmaids Lydia Douce and Mina Kennedy and listens to the singing of Simon Dedalus and others.

Episode 12, The Cyclops

This chapter is narrated largely by an unnamed denizen of Dublin, although his style of speech is heavily modelled on John Joyce, Joyce's father. He runs into Hynes and they enter a pub for a drink. At the pub, they meet Alf Bergan and a character referred to only as the 'Citizen', who is largely modeled on Michael Cusack, founder of the Gaelic Athletic Association. Eventually, Leopold Bloom enters waiting to meet Martin Cunningham. The citizen is discovered to be a fierce Fenian and begins berating Bloom. The atmosphere quickly becomes anti-Semitic and Bloom escapes upon Cunningham's arrival. The chapter is marked by extended digressions made outside the voice of the unnamed narrator: hyperboles of legal jargon, Biblical passages, Irish mythology, etc., with lists of names often extending half a page. The episode title Cyclops refers both to the narrator, who is often quoted with 'says I', and to the Citizen, who fails to see the folly of his narrow-minded thinking.

Episode 13, Nausicaä

Three young women, Cissy Caffrey, Edy Boardman, and Gerty MacDowell, have come to the strand to watch a display of fireworks. The chapter opens by following Gerty's stream of consciousness as she daydreams of finding someone to love her. Eventually, Bloom appears and they begin to flirt from a distance. The girls are about to leave when the fireworks start. Cissy and Edy leave to get a better view, but Gerty remains. Bloom has made his way to the rocks of Sandymount Strand where he encounters the young beauty. Bloom becomes the romantic stranger to Gerty by watching her from a distance. She sees Bloom's troubled face and ponders over what terrible thing may have cast him out upon this rocky shore. It is here that Gerty becomes like the Virgin Mary, the beacon "to the storm-tossed heart of man" (346). Her romantic notions of marriage and passion become more abundant as she views Bloom.

Gerty becomes anxious for her friends to leave and inquires of the time as a subtle hint that they should be getting on their way. One of the girls approaches Bloom, asking for the time. Bloom discovers that his watch has stopped at half past four. Later the reader discovers that this is probably the time at which Bloom's wife, Molly, was committing adultery with Blazes Boylan. Bloom does not strike up a conversation with the girl but rather keeps his focus on Gerty who is now fully aware of her admirer. The girls decide that it is late and begin to leave. As they are packing up the children's things, Gerty begins to entice the stranger through the exploitation of her body.

At about this time the benediction at the church has drawn to a close and fireworks are set off. Everyone runs to see the fireworks except for Gerty and Bloom. Gerty, filled with passion, is enticed by the fireworks as she tilts her body backwards to see. As she moves back on the rocks she deliberately exposes herself fully to Bloom. At this moment a long Roman candle is shot off into the air. Gerty sees the long rocket as it goes "higher and higher" (Joyce 366) and leans back even further, exposing even more to Bloom. Gerty's sexual excitement grows as she is "trembling in every limb" (Joyce 366). The imagery of the long rocket corresponds with Bloom's manhood as he is masturbating to Gerty's display in time with the rocket. Finally the two reach their climax as the Roman candle explodes in the air and from it gushes out "a stream of rain gold hair threads" (Joyce 367).

Gerty then leaves, revealing herself to be lame, and leaving Bloom meditating on the beach. Gerty's display of her body is inset with allusions to the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament taking place across the street from the strand in a Catholic church. This is usually read as Joyce's playful punning on the ceremonial display of the 'Body of Christ' in the form of the Host coupled with Gerty's displaying her own body to Bloom (who is clearly acting out his own version of an Adoration). Gerty's final revelation of being 'lame' is also read as Joyce's opinion of the state of the Roman Catholic Church, especially in Ireland. The first half of the episode is marked by an excessively sentimental style, and it is unclear how much of Gerty's monologue is actually imagined by Bloom.

Episode 14, The Oxen of the Sun

Bloom visits the maternity hospital where Mina Purefoy is giving birth, and finally meets Stephen, who is drinking with Buck Mulligan and his medical student friends. They continue on to a pub to continue drinking, following the successful birth of the baby. This chapter is remarkable for Joyce's wordplay, which seems to recapitulate the entire history of the English language to describe a scene in an obstetrics hospital, from the Carmen Arvale

Deshil Holles Eamus. Deshil Holles Eamus. Deshil Holles Eamus.

to something resembling alliterative Anglo-Saxon poetry

In ward wary the watcher hearing come that man mildhearted eft rising with swire ywimpled to him her gate wide undid. Lo, levin leaping lightens in eyeblink Ireland's westward welkin. Full she dread that God the Wreaker all mankind would fordo with water for his evil sins. Christ's rood made she on breastbone and him drew that he would rathe infare under her thatch. That man her will wotting worthful went in Horne's house.

and on through skillful parodies of, among others, Malory, the King James Bible, Bunyan, Pepys, Defoe, Addison and Steele, Sterne, Goldsmith, Junius, Gibbon, Lamb, De Quincey, Landor, Dickens, Newman, Ruskin and Carlyle, before concluding in a haze of nearly incomprehensible slang, bringing to mind American English employed in advertising. Indeed, Joyce organized this chapter as three sections divided into nine total subsections, representing the trimesters and months of gestation.

This extremely complex chapter can be further broken down structurally. It consists of sixty paragraphs. The first ten paragraphs are parodies of Latin and Anglo-Saxon language, the two major predecessors to the English language, and can be seen as intercourse and conception. The next forty paragraphs, representing the 40 weeks of gestation in human embryonic development, begin with Middle English satires; they move chronologically forward through the various styles mentioned above. At the end of the fiftieth paragraph, the baby in the maternity hospital is born, and the final ten paragraphs are the child, combining all the different forms of slang and street English that were spoken in Dublin in the early part of the 20th century.

Episode 15, Circe

Episode Fifteen takes the form of a play script with stage directions and descriptions, with characters’ names appearing above their dialogue. The majority of the action of Episode Fifteen occurs only as drunken hallucinations.

The episode opens at Nighttown, which acts as Dublinmarker's red-light district. Stephen and Lynch walk toward a brothel. Bloom attempts to follow Stephen and Lynch to Nighttown, but soon loses them. Here, the episode's first hallucination begins, in which Bloom is confronted by family members, such as Molly Bloom and his parents, and also by Gerty MacDowell, in regards to various offences.

Awakening from this hallucination, Bloom feeds a dog. This act leads onto another hallucination in which Bloom is questioned by a pair of Night-Wardens. From here, Bloom then imagines facing trial, accused of a variety of outlandish crimes, including forgery and bigamy, possibly alluding to a subconscious guilt over his marital duplicity. Bloom is accused and testified against by recognisable figures like Myles Crawford, and Paddy Dignam. Mary Driscoll states that Bloom made inappropriate advances towards her when she was under his employment. Shaking off this fantasy, Bloom is approached by Zoe Higgins, a local prostitute. Zoe tells him Stephen is currently in the brothel that she works in. Another fantasy ensues, in which Bloom gives a campaign speech. Attracting the attention and subsequent admiration of both the Irish and Zionists, and is subsequently hailed as the leader of "Bloomusalem." The hallucination turns more surreal and unpredictable when Bloom is accused of yet more outlandish offenses and for having rumoured sexual abnormalities. Bloom is then declared a woman, and spontaneously gives birth to eight children. Zoe then reappears, signalling the end of the hallucination, with only a second having actually passed since she last spoke.

After Bloom is led inside the brothel and sees Stephen, another hallucination begins with the arrival of Lipoti Virag, who lectures Bloom about sexual attitudes and conduct. Then, the owner of the brothel, Bella Cohen, appears and soon turns into a male version of herself "Bello," who proceeds to dominate and humiliate Bloom, who is conversely referred to in the feminine. In this hallucination, Bloom proceeds to "die". After his "death" he converses with the nymph from the picture in the Blooms’ bedroom, who berates Bloom for his fallibility. Bloom, regaining a degree of triumphant confidence, stands up to the nymph, questioning her own sexual attitudes.

Bloom then returns to reality, finding Bella Cohen before him. Bloom takes his lucky potato from Zoe and Stephen pays for the services received, in his drunken state, paying far more than necessary. Seeing this, Bloom confiscates the rest of Stephen's money. Another hallucination starts, involving Bloom watching Boylan and Molly fornicate. Returning to consciousness, Bloom finds Stephen dancing to the pianola. Another hallucination then starts, this time Stephen's, in which the rotting cadaver of his mother rises up from the floor to confront him, a manifestation of his own guilt and lingering uncertainty over his role in his mother's death. Terrified, Stephen uses his walking stick to smash a chandelier. Bloom quickly repays Bella, who demands more than is fair for the damage, then runs after Stephen, worried for his safety.

Bloom quickly finds Stephen engaged in a heated argument, and Dedalus gets punched and knocked out. The police arrive and the crowd disperses. Bloom tends on and checks Stephen, as an apparition of Rudy, Bloom's deceased child, appears, underlining the parental feelings Leopold has built up toward the younger Stephen.

In short, this episode is the longest in the novel yet occurs within a rather short time-frame. Molly's letter from Boylan and Bloom's from Martha are reworked into a series of seductive letters ending in a trial. Bloom's sexual infidelities, beginning with Lotty Clarke and ending with Gerty McDowell, are relived and reconciled.

Part III: The Nostos

Episode 16, Eumaeus

Bloom and Stephen go to the cabman's shelter to eat. There they encounter a drunken sailor, as well as Lord John Corley.

Episode 17, Ithacamarker

Bloom returns home with Stephen, who refuses Bloom's offer of a place to stay for the night. The two men urinate in the backyard beside the sleeping dog, Stephen departs and wanders off into the night, and Bloom goes to bed. The episode is written in the form of a rigidly organized catechism, and was reportedly Joyce's favourite episode in the novel.

Episode 18, Penelope

The final episode, which also uses the stream of consciousness technique seen in Episode 3, consists of Molly Bloom's Soliloquy: eight enormous sentences (without punctuation) written from the viewpoint of Bloom's wife.

The first sentence begins with Molly expressing annoyance and surprise that Bloom has asked her to serve him breakfast in bed, as it is he that usually does this for her, (such as in the fourth episode, Calypso). She then guesses that Bloom has had an orgasm today, and is reminded of his past possible infidelity with other women. In turn, she thinks of her afternoon spent with Boylan, whose conventional and masculine lovemaking technique provided a welcome change after a decade of celibacy and Bloom's strange lovemaking techniques. Yet, Molly feels Bloom is more virile than Boylan and remembers how handsome Bloom was when they were courting. Reminded of Josie's and the mentally unstable Denis Breen's marriage, Molly feels that she and Bloom are lucky, despite the current marital difficulties.

In Molly's second sentence, she reflects upon her previous and current admirers: Boylan; the tenor Bartell D’Arcy, whom she was kissed by in a church; Lt. Gardner, who died during the Boer War. Molly then thinks about her husband's underwear fetish. She then thinks about seeing Boylan on Monday and their upcoming trip to Belfast alone. She then thinks of her career: concert singing, and Bloom's help. Thinking about her future meetings with Boylan, Molly decides that she must lose weight. She thinks about how Bloom should quit his advertising job at Freeman and get better paid work elsewhere, like in an office. But then remembers having to plead with Mr. Cuffe, a previous employer for Bloom's job back after he was fired, which was refused.

Moving on to the third sentence, Marion thinks of the time Bloom suggested she pose naked in exchange for money, and of pornographic imagery, which she associates with the nymph painting that Bloom used to explain the concept of metempsychosis earlier this morning. Her thoughts once again turn to Boylan and of her orgasm earlier.

Molly's fourth sentence begins with a train whistle and her Gibraltar childhood, her companions there, and recollections of how she had resorted to writing herself letters after they left, out of boredom and loneliness. Molly then thinks about how Milly sent her a card this morning, whereas her husband received a whole letter. She imagines that she may receive another love letter from Boylan, as she did earlier.

This line of thought leads to the next sentence, in which she recalls her first love letter, from Lieutenant Mulvey, whom she kissed under the bridge in Gibraltar. She later lost contact with him and wonders what he would be like now. Her thoughts turn again to her career, and she remains dismissive of silly girl singers. Molly wonders what path her career could have taken had she not married Bloom.

In her sixth sentence, Molly thinks again about Milly and how it was Bloom's idea to send Milly to Mullingar to learn photography, because he sensed Molly's and Boylan's impending affair. She feels that Milly has become as Molly used to be. Molly senses the start of her period, confirmation that her tryst with Boylan has not caused a pregnancy. Events of the day spent with Boylan run through her mind.

In her seventh sentence, Molly climbs quietly back into bed and thinks of the times she and Bloom have had to relocate. Their financial situation makes Molly worry that Leopold may have wasted money on another woman, or on the Dignam family out of pity. Her mind then turns to Stephen, whom she met during his childhood. She predicts that Stephen is probably not stuck-up, and is most likely clean. Furthermore, she fantasizes about future sexual encounters with him, including fellatio. Molly resolves to study before meeting him so he will not look down upon her.

In her eighth sentence, Molly thinks of her husband's strange habits, how he never embraces her, instead kissing her bottom, as he did earlier. Molly speculates that the world would be much improved if it consisted of Matriarchal Societies, run exclusively by women. She thinks again of Stephen, and of his mother's death, and that of Rudy's death, she then ends this line of thought as it is making her depressed. Molly thinks about arousing Bloom in the morning, then revealing the details of her affair with Boylan to make him realize his culpability. Molly then decides to procure some flowers, in case Stephen Dedalus decides to come around. Thinking of flowers, Molly thinks of the day she and Bloom spent at Howth, his marriage proposal, and her response, reaffirming her love for Leopold, even during a period of turbulence within the marriage.

The concluding period following the final words of her reverie is one of only three punctuation marks in the chapter, the others being after the fourth and eighth "sentences." When written this episode contained the longest "sentence" in English literature, 4,391 words expressed by Molly Bloom.

Publication history

Written over a seven-year period from 1914 to 1921, the novel was serialised in the American journal The Little Review from 1918 until the publication of the Nausicaä episode led to a prosecution for obscenity. In 1919, sections of the novel also appeared in the London literary journal The Egoist, but the novel itself was banned in the United Kingdom until the 1930s. In 1920 after the US magazine The Little Review serialized a passage of the book dealing with the main character masturbating, a group called the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, who objected to the book's content, took action to attempt to keep the book out of the United States. At a trial in 1921 the magazine was declared obscene and as a result Ulysses was banned in the United States. In 1933, the publisher Random House arranged to import the French edition and have a copy seized by customs when the ship was unloaded, which it then contested. In United States v. One Book Called Ulysses, U.S. District Judge John M. Woolsey ruled on December 6, 1933 that the book was not pornographic and therefore could not be obscene, a decision that has been called "epoch-making" by Stuart Gilbert. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the ruling in 1934.

The publication history of Ulysses is disputed and obscure. There have been at least eighteen editions, and variations in different impressions of each edition. Notable editions include the first edition published in Paris on 2 February 1922 by Sylvia Beach at Shakespeare and Companymarker (only 1000 copies printed), the pirated Roth edition, published in New Yorkmarker in 1929, the Odyssey Press edition of 1932 (including some revisions generally attributed to Stuart Gilbert, and therefore sometimes considered the most accurate edition); the 1934 Random House US edition, the first English edition of the Bodley Head in 1936, the revised Bodley Head Edition of 1960, the revised Random House edition of 1961 (reset from the Bodley Head 1960 edition), and the Gabler critical and synoptic edition of 1984.

According to Joyce scholar Jack Dalton, the first edition of Ulysses contained over two thousand errors but was still the most accurate edition published. As each subsequent edition attempted to correct these mistakes, it incorporated more of its own. Hans Walter Gabler's 1984 edition was the most sustained attempt to produce a corrected text, but it received much criticism, most notably from John Kidd. Kidd's main theoretical criticism is of Gabler's choice of a patchwork of manuscripts as his copy-text (the base edition with which the editor compares each variant), but this fault stems from an assumption of the Anglo-American tradition of scholarly editing rather than the blend of French and German editorial theories that actually lay behind Gabler's reasoning. The choice of a multiple copy-text is seen to be problematic in the eyes of some American editors, who generally favor the first edition of any particular work as copy-text. Less subject to differing national editorial theories, however, is the claim that for hundreds of pages––about half the episodes of Ulysses––the extant manuscript is purported to be a 'fair copy' which Joyce made for sale to a potential patron. (As it turned out, John Quinn, the Irish-American lawyer and collector, purchased the manuscript.) Diluting this charge somewhat, is the fact that the theory of (now lost) final working drafts is Gabler's own. For the suspect episodes, the existing typescript is the last witness. Gabler attempted to reconstruct what he called 'the continuous manuscript text', which had never physically existed, by adding together all of Joyce's accretions from the various sources. This allowed Gabler to produce a 'synoptic text' indicating the stage at which each addition was inserted. Kidd and even some of Gabler's own advisers believe this method meant losing Joyce's final changes in about two thousand places . Far from being 'continuous', the manuscripts seem to be opposite. Jerome McGann describes in detail the editorial principles of Gabler in his article for the journal Criticism, issue 27, 1985. In the wake of the controversy, still other commentators charged that Gabler's changes were motivated by a desire to secure a fresh copyright and another seventy-five years of royalties beyond a looming expiration date.

In June 1988 John Kidd published 'The Scandal of Ulysses' in the New York Review of Books, charging that not only did Gabler's changes overturn Joyce's last revisions, but in another four hundred places Gabler failed to follow any manuscript whatever, making nonsense of his own premises. Kidd accused Gabler of unnecessarily changing Joyce's spelling, punctuation, use of accents, and all the small details he claimed to have been restoring. Instead, Gabler was actually following printed editions such as that of 1932, not the manuscripts. More sensationally, Gabler was found to have made genuine blunders, the most famous being his changing the name of Dubliner Harry Thrift to 'Shrift' and cricketer Captain Buller to 'Culler' on the basis of handwriting irregularities in the extant manuscript. (These 'corrections' were undone by Gabler in 1986.)

In December 1988, Charles Rossman's 'The New Ulysses: The Hidden Controversy' for the New York Review revealed that Gabler's own advisers felt too many changes were being made, but that the publishers were pushing for as many alterations as possible. Then Kidd produced a 174-page critique that filled an entire issue of the Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, dated the same month. This 'Inquiry into Ulysses: The Corrected Text' was the next year published in book format and on floppy disk by Kidd's James Joyce Research Center at Boston Universitymarker. Gabler and others rejected Kidd's critique, and the scholarly community remains divided. To this day, many European critics teach the Gabler edition while their counterparts in the U. S. tend to shy away from it.

In 1990 Gabler's American publisher Random House quietly replaced the Gabler edition with its 1961 version, and in the United Kingdom the Bodley Head press revived its 1960 version. In both the UK and USA, Everyman's Library, too, republished the 1960 Ulysses. In 1992 Penguin dropped Gabler and reprinted the 1960 text. The Gabler version is at present available from Vintage International. Reprints of the imperfect 1922 first edition are now widely available, largely due to a temporary (but since revived) copyright expiration.

While much ink has been split over the faults and theoretical underpinnings of the Gabler edition, the much vaunted Kidd edition has yet to materialize. In 1992 W.W. Norton announced that a Kidd edition of Ulysses was about to be published as part of a series called "The Dublin Edition of the Works of James Joyce." This book had to be withdrawn, however, when the Joyce estate objected. The estate has chosen to refuse to authorize any further editions of Joyce's work for the present but has recently signed a deal with Wordsworth Editions to bring out a bargain version of the novel in January 2010, ahead of copyright expiration in 2012.

Media adaptations

In 1958, a stage adaptation of the novel, named Ulysses in Nighttown, was produced, starring Zero Mostel. The play incorporated many of the dialogue-heavy parts of the novel, and much like it began at the tower in Sandycove and ended with Molly's soliloquy. It was revived in the 1970s.

In 1967, a film version of the book was directed by Joseph Strick, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.

In 1974, chapter 15 was staged in the Polish Teatr Ateneum under the name of New Bloomusalem. It was staged again in 1999 in Teatr Narodowy (National Theater). Both plays were directed by Jerzy Grzegorzewski.

On Bloomsday 1980, The Abbey Theatremarker launched a celebrated one-man show Joycemen by Irish actor Eamon Morrissey. The show consisted of extracts from Ulysses ranging from Bloom's breakfast to Molly's soliloquy, and included as a tour de force a celebrated version of the rowdy pub scene in Cyclops where he played all the characters. The show opened to acclaim at the Peacock Theatre in Dublin and was repeated, including global tours, until the late 1980's.

On Bloomsday 1982, the Irish National Broadcaster RTÉmarker aired a full-cast dramatised radio production of Ulysses, that ran uninterruptedly for 29 hours and 45 minutes, being perhaps the longest radio programme ever made. It has been commercially released on CD and mp3.

BBC Radio broadcast a dramatisation of Ulysses read by Sinéad Cusack, James Greene, Stephen Rea, Norman Rodway, and others in 1993. This performance had a running time of 5 hours and 50 minutes.

In 2003, a movie version Bloom was released starring Stephen Rea.

The unabridged text of Ulysses has been performed by Jim Norton, with Marcella Riordan. This recording was released by Naxos Records on 22 audio CDs in 2004. It follows an earlier abridged recording with the same actors.

Each June 16, Symphony Spacemarker in New York City performs as a staged reading, over the entire day, many passages from the book. It culminates with a guest star reading the final chapter, ending roughly at midnight.

In 2006, playwright Sheila Callaghan's "Dead City," a contemporary stage adaptation of the book set in New York City, and featuring the male figures Bloom and Dedalus re-imagined as female characters Samantha Blossom and Jewel Jupiter, was produced in Manhattan by New Georges.

Allusions and references to other works

See also: Musical Allusions In Ulysses

Aside from the obvious footprint of Homer's Odyssey, Joyce used hundreds of other writers and their works during the composition of Ulysses.

Samuel Rosenberg, in his book Naked is the Best Disguise, noted similarities between the section in which Bloom tracks Dedalus and a section in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's A Study in Scarlet. Rosenberg also notes other references to Doyle's writings.

Notes and references


  • Blamires, Harry. The Bloomsday Book: A Guide Through Joyce's Ulysses, Methuen (1966).
  • Borach, Georges. Conversations with James Joyce, translated by Joseph Prescott, College English, 15 (March 1954).
  • Burgess, Anthony. Here Comes Everybody: An Introduction to James Joyce for the Ordinary Reader (1965); also published as Re Joyce.
  • Burgess, Anthony. Joysprick: An Introduction to the Language of James Joyce (1973).
  • Budgen, Frank. James Joyce and the Making of Ulysses. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, (1960).
  • Campbell, Joseph. Mythic Worlds, Modern Words. Canada: New World Library, 2004.
  • Dalton, Jack. The Text of Ulysses in Fritz Senn, ed. New Light on Joyce from the Dublin Symposium. Indiana University Press (1972).
  • Derrida, Jacques (1992) ‘Ulysses’ Gramophone: Hear Say Yes In Joyce. in Acts of Literature. Ed. Derek Attridge. New York: Routledge, 1992. pp. 253-309.
  • Ellmann, Richard. James Joyce. Oxford University Press, revised edition (1983).
  • Ellmann, Richard, ed. Selected Letters of James Joyce. The Viking Press (1975).
  • Gifford, Don with Seidman, Robert J. Ulysses Annotated: Notes for James Joyce's Ulysses, Revised and Expanded Edition, University of California Press (1988).
  • Gilbert, Stuart. James Joyce's Ulysses: A study, Faber and Faber (1930).
  • Gorman, Herbert. James Joyce: A Definitive Biography (1939).
  • Heffernan, James A. W. Joyce's Ulysses, The Teaching Company LP (2001).
  • Kain, Richard M. Fabulous Voyager: A Study of James Joyce's Ulysses, University of Chicago Press (1947).
  • Kenner, Hugh. Ulysses, Unwin Critical Library (1980).
  • Mood, John. Joyce's "Ulysses" for Everyone, Or How to Skip Reading It the First Time. Bloomington, Indiana: Author House, 2004. ISBN 1-4184-5104-5.
  • Schwaber, Paul. The Cast of Characters, Yale University Press (1999).
  • Weldon, Thornton. Allusions in Ulysses: An Annotated List. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1968 and 1973. ISBN 978-0-8078-4089-4.

Further reading

  • Arnold, Bruce. The Scandal of Ulysses: The Life and Afterlife of a Twentieth Century Masterpiece. Rev. ed. Dublin: Liffey Press, 2004. ISBN 190-4148-45X.
  • Attridge, Derek, ed. James Joyce's Ulysses: A Casebook. Oxford and New York: Oxford UP, 2004. ISBN 978-0-1951-5830-4.
  • Benstock, Bernard. Critical Essays on James Joyce's Ulysses. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8161-8766-9.
  • Duffy, Enda, The Subaltern Ulysses. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1994. ISBN 0-8166-2329-5.
  • Ellmann, Richard. Ulysses on the Liffey. New York: Oxford UP, 1972. ISBN 978-0-1951-9665-8.
  • French, Marilyn. The Book as World: James Joyce's Ulysses. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1976. ISBN 978-0-6740-7853-6.
  • Gillespie, Michael Patrick and A. Nicholas Fargnoli, eds. Ulysses in Critical Perspective. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2006 . ISBN 978-0-8130-2932-0.
  • Goldberg, Samuel Louis. The Classical Temper: A Study of James Joyce's Ulysses. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1961 and 1969.
  • Henke, Suzette. Joyce's Moraculous Sindbook: A Study of Ulysses. Columbus: Ohio State UP, 1978. ISBN 978-0-8142-0275-3.
  • Killeen, Terence. Ulysses Unbound: A Reader's Companion to James Joyce's Ulysses. Bray, County Wicklow, Ireland: Wordwell, 2004. ISBN 978-1-8698-5772-1.
  • McKenna, Bernard. James Joyce's Ulysses: A Reference Guide. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2002. ISBN 978-0-3133-1625-8.
  • Murphy, Niall. A Bloomsday Postcard. Dublin: Lilliput Press, 2004. ISBN 978-1-8435-1050-5.
  • Norris, Margot. A Companion to James Joyce's Ulysses: Biographical and Historical Contexts, Critical History, and Essays From Five Contemporary Critical Perspectives. Boston: Bedford Books, 1998. ISBN 978-0-3122-1067-0.
  • Schutte, William M. James Index of Recurrent Elements in James Joyce's Ulysses. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 1982. ISBN 978-0-8093-1067-8.
  • Vanderham, Paul. James Joyce and Censorship: The Trials of Ulysses. New York: New York UP, 1997. ISBN 978-0-8147-8790-8.
  • Weldon, Thornton. Allusions in Ulysses: An Annotated List. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1968 and 1973. ISBN 978-0-8078-4089-4.

Editions in print

Facsimile texts of the manuscript

  • Ulysses, A three volume, hardcover, with slip-case, facsimile copy of the only complete, handwritten manuscript of James Joyce's Ulysses. Three volumes. Quarto. Critical introduction by Harry Levin. Bibliographical preface by Clive Driver. The first two volumes comprise the facsimile manuscript, while the third contains a comparison of the manuscript and the first printings, annotated by Clive Driver. These volumes were published in association with the Philip H. &. A.S.W. Rosenbach Foundation (now known as the Rosenbach Museum & Librarymarker), Philadelphia. New York: Octagon Books (1975).

Facsimile texts of the 1922 first edition

  • Ulysses, The 1922 Text, with an introduction and notes by Jeri Johnson, Oxford University Press (1993). A World Classics paperback edition with full critical apparatus. ISBN 0-19-282866-5
  • Ulysses: A Reproduction of the 1922 First Edition, Dover Publications (2002). Paperback. ISBN 978-0486424446
  • Ulysses: A Facsimile of the First Edition Published in Paris in 1922, Orchises Press (1998). This hardback edition closely mimics the first edition in binding and cover design. ISBN 978-0914061700

Based on the 1960 Bodley Head/1961 Random House editions

  • Ulysses, Vintage International (paperback, 1990)
  • Ulysses: Annotated Student's Edition, with an introduction and notes by Declan Kiberd, Penguin Twentieth Century Classics (paperback, 1992).
  • Ulysses: The 1934 Text, As Corrected and Reset in 1961, Modern Library (hardback, 1992). With a foreword by Morris L. Ernst.
  • Ulysses, Everyman's Library, (hardback, 1997)
  • Ulysses, Penguin Modern Classics (paperback, 2000), with an introduction by Declan Kiberd.
  • Ulysses, Random House (hardback, 2002). With a foreword by Morris L. Ernst.

Based on the 1984 Gabler edition

  • Ulysses: The corrected text, Edited by Hans Walter Gabler with Wolfhard Steppe and Claus Melchior, and a new preface by Richard Ellmann, Vintage International (1986) - This follows the disputed Garland Edition.

External links

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