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am 24. Juli 2000
"Ulysses" is the greatest book ever written. After several attempts, I have read it in its entirety only once, but I hope read it again and again. I'm not one who tries to appear pedantic, but I feel very strongly about my amature opinion. When you grasp the accomplishment that Joyce produced, you are in awe.
"Ulysses" is just the events of one day, June 16, 1904, in Dublin. The three "main" characters are Leopold Bloom, an Irish Jew, (the only reason I mention his ethnicity is because it's important to the story); Stephen Dedalus, a school teacher, who can be seen as a continuation of the protagonist from "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man", and as Joyce's own persona in the story; and Molly Bloom, Leopold's adulterous wife, whose non-punctuated "monolog" in the final chapter is probably the most quoted section of the book. Nothing fantastic action-wise happens in the story, beginning in the morning with Stephen's roommate--they live in an old military post built during the Napoleonic Wars--Buck Mulligan shaving, and ending very late in the evening with Molly Bloom's recollections of the day and her feelings for her husband, among many others; but it's the methods of production and presentation that you admire. Joyce uses "stream-of-consciousness" or some would say more accurately, "internal monolog". Characters thoughts are presented in prose to give the effect of being inside the characters mind, kind of like having a front row seat. One of the many difficulties is that the role of narrator often switches, and sometimes switches to characters that aren't even identified. This often confuses first-time readers and scares off scores of others. "Ulysses" isn't an easy read. Reading it takes work. But it's not impossible. Some may feel that no book is worth the effort, but I assure you "Ulysses" is, and it won't take that much out of you to understand it. One book I highly recommend is "Introducing Joyce". It's an easy read and covers Joyce's life and his major works, especially "Ulysses".
Which editon of "Ulysses" should you purchase? Either the corrected 1961 version, the Gabler edition (which has even more corrections and actually lists the chapters, numbered and titled, and has them clearly identified), both of which are published by Vintage Books. There is also the Oxford World Classics edition, based on the original 1922 publication that also has corrections, footnotes, and a map of Dublin. I proudly have all three. =D
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