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FREE: Ulysses by James Joyce - Download and Review

Celtic lyricism and vulgarity taken to splendid extremes. It is funny, sorrowful, and even suspenseful!

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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 unforgettable 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 anaesthetist, 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 run down 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 up cast 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

Ulysses (fiction)
James Joyce (Author)
customer reviews (Yes)
Print List Price: £1.99
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Reviews from Amazon:

Like many, I have tried reading the book and found it quite tough.Jim Norton makes the text come to life and team with unforgettable characters. His voice is an extraordinary instrument capable of conveying every emotional nuance and moments of great humour. His reading is an amazing tour de force.He has an inexhaustible range of voices in all registers from velvety bass to falsetto. He conveys the multilayered prose with complete ease deploying many voices to convey a sense of place, inner thoughts and an astonishing cast of characters, each with a unique and distinctive timbre, register and accent.Bloom emerges as a deeply sympathetic and vulnerable human being.

Marcella Riordan is also marvellous as Molly. She is vividly realised and her soliloquy becomes a fascinating and erotic experience. Despite their considerable length, I have already enjoyed these discs several times and find each repetition more illuminating.I now understand why this book has achieved its legendary status. This reading is, perhaps, the most remarkable piece of storytelling I have ever heard.
If you want a book to read on the plane or by a poolside then this is not for you. This is heavy meat. This is a classic novel which takes time and patience to read. But well worth it. This my favourite novel and I recommend it to anyone who wants to know what serious reading is all about.
It has been said that the title should arrest the casual onlooker as if it was read: The Bible. Ulysses is James Joyce's Bible. What does one gain from reading this novel? Joyce has such a command of our language that it becomes putty in the hands of an artist. Each chapter has its own technique. Joyce wears a different mask for each section so that the reader sees the history of the English language unfold before him. Joyce remains the super-artist however, peering down from his over world of the ultimate artist. Reading Ulysses will make all modern fiction seem to be the ineluctable flotsam in the path of the Joycean mother ship. So who is Ulysses the character? What is Ulysses? Odysseus? Odysseus is the beloved Greek figure who appears in the form of Leopold Bloom. Ulysses was the despised, bloodthirsty, Roman rabble rowser who ended up in one of Dante's jivin' circles. Bloom is not Ulysses. Ulysses is something else. Everything else. A three in one of Bloom, Stephen, Molly; Father, son, mother(holy ghost); Scientist, artist, lover; the meeting place of lust and compassion: Word known to man: Love. Reader beware, Ulysses is not Ulysses, it is something else. It is the Bible of Modernism. or something like that.

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