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Ulysses

Joyce, James

Published by Random House, New York, NY, 1934
ISBN 10: 0394450051 / ISBN 13: 9780394450056
/ Hardcover
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Bibliographic Details


Title: Ulysses

Publisher: Random House, New York, NY

Publication Date: 1934

Binding: Hardcover

Dust Jacket Condition: Dust Jacket Included

Edition: First Edition

Description:

VG, thin brown mark to feps in DJ tanned spine edge; DJ has very minor edge wear only, small damp stain mark lower spine. No ownership or bookshop markings, price of $3.50 intact; Stated First; Cream cloth; 8vo; DJ. Bookseller Inventory # 13515

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Synopsis: Ulysses is one of the greatest works in modern literature. Joyce pulls from Greek Mythology to create a modern version staring Ulysses as he journeys through 20th century Ireland. Similar to his other works, Ulysses concentrates on Irish nationalism and the way of life for a middle class citizen. James Joyce was an Irish writer who is largely considered to be one of the most important authors of the 20th century. Joyce is perhaps the best known practitioner of the modern unorthodox style. With classics such as Ulysses, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and Finnegans Wake, Joyce remains one of the most read authors in all of literature.

Review: Ulysses has been labeled dirty, blasphemous, and unreadable. In a famous 1933 court decision, Judge John M. Woolsey declared it an emetic book--although he found it sufficiently unobscene to allow its importation into the United States--and Virginia Woolf was moved to decry James Joyce's "cloacal obsession." None of these adjectives, 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 a close-focus sort of 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 sheer 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 might 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 indelible Dubliners. We watch them teach, eat, stroll the streets, 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 accordian 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 naive 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

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