Ulysses for dummies…

In case you skimmed over the previous Bloomsday thread and missed Cormac’s link, here’s a helpful narrative outline of Ulysses for those who haven’t read it, and for some of us who have and lost the plot just after the beginning of Chapter 1.


  • Stephen Copeland

    The BBC also produced a href=”http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/arts/3810193.stm”>Cheat’s guide to Joyce’s Ulysses for the centenary in 2004. It is quite useful, but what I especially liked were the comments below:

    Ignore all this childish, fear-filled criticism, Ulysses will be read when everything you see and touch around you has crumbled into dust. (by Stephen Fry)

    The book is pretentious hogwash, a classic because the pretentious, intellectual mafia say it is. Don’t waste your time on this drivel.

    Author wakes up one morning and decides just how far he can push his luck…..quite far by the sounds of it.

    Born. Eat. Have sex. Die.

    Irish novelist disappears up own back passage. Collects royalty cheque.

    And so on …

    PS I have actually read the book, and liked it. Though I cannot understand how anyone who does not know Dublin well could get anything out of it. It is completely Dublin-centred and full of small personal details that would be lost on all non-jackeens.

  • Stephen Copeland

    Blast. Sorry about that link!

    It should be Cheat’s guide to Joyce’s Ulysses, of course.

  • joeCanuck

    Copy of my comment from an earlier post:

    I did read it from cover to cover when in my teens.
    I don’t think I could repeat that feat now but I still get a lot of pleasure a few times a year by opening it at random and reading a few dozen pages.

    Posted by joeCanuck on Jun 13, 2006 @ 03:51 PM

  • Brother Louis

    Can anyone tell me why Joyce is held in such a high regard and why it would be worth my while making another attempt to read any of his books?

  • joeCanuck

    Ah Brother louis

    You don’t know what you’re missing. If you can’t appreciate the prose, try the Dandy or Beano.
    Otherwise use my suggestion; open the book, any of his books, at random, and just read a few pages.
    Sheer joy.

  • Cormac

    Incidentally, the full book is available here. See how far you get! I’m on chapter 3…

  • foreign correspondent

    I can´t get the link to work Cormac

  • Cormac

    Thanks Maca – been having trouble with my links today.

  • foreign correspondent

    Go raibh maith agat, a Mhaca. Nil leithsceal ar bith agam maidir le caibidil no dho a leamh De hAoine anois…

  • foreign correspondent

    Picked at random from the Gutenberg online version. Good it is too:

    ´´And our eyes are on Europe, says the citizen. We had our trade with Spain and the French and with the Flemings before those mongrels were pupped, Spanish ale in Galway, the winebark on the winedark waterway.

    –And will again, says Joe.

    –And with the help of the holy mother of God we will again, says the citizen, clapping his thigh. our harbours that are empty will be full again, Queenstown, Kinsale, Galway, Blacksod Bay, Ventry in the kingdom of Kerry, Killybegs, the third largest harbour in the wide world with a fleet of masts of the Galway Lynches and the Cavan O’Reillys and the O’Kennedys of Dublin when the earl of Desmond could make a treaty with the emperor Charles the Fifth himself. And will again, says he, when the first Irish battleship is seen breasting the waves with our own flag to the fore, none of your Henry Tudor’s harps, no, the oldest flag afloat, the flag of the province of Desmond and Thomond, three crowns on a blue field, the three sons of Milesius.´´

  • Alexander Bowman

    Without the benefit of ‘Gutenberg,’ from the memory and at a distance of some years;

    ‘Mother Ireland – an old sow that eats her farrow…’

    Stephen Daedalus’ internationalist view – which will receive confirmation from the perspective of Poldy’s infinitely human and humane ‘Wandering Jew’ – is surely closer to joyce’s intentions than the vapid if toxic and noisy eructations of the Citizen….

    (And Shem the Penman ain’t got a sectarian metatarsal in him’s body, for if the seagreen incorruptible Cusack gets it, so too does the unionist headmaster Garret Deasey at the beginning:

    ‘Mr. Daedalus, Ireland never had a Jewish problem for the good reason that we never let them in!’

    A truly great book!

  • Brenda

    Never liked Uly…

    but his other books like dubliners are marvellous. Joyce is excellent. However, always thought Uly… was much tooo over rated. A book for the highbrows to argue over what this meant or what is this symbol off. Too high flautten….

    Actually one of the schools he mentions in dublin is still there and still with the christian brothers running it.

  • bertie

    I reaaly need an idiots guide. It is one of those books that I bought because I thought that I should and after a few pages wished that it could be injected without me having to read it.

  • Bertie

    After you get through with giving the speech at Charlie’s funeral ( the Parnell of our era, if you remember the dinner scene in Portrait),

    do the following:
    1, read Portrait quickly.
    2. read the first chapter i=of Ulysses in your next block. Begins at the Sandycove swim
    3. Read the next chapter: beginfs with Leo Bloom getting his disgusting breakfast.

    Once you do that, and it takes not much effort, you are well and truly into it. Please note the following:
    1. Ulysses does not need a special guide. At one level, it is a straightforward funny book.
    2. He bases the thing on Ulysses/Odysseus but you have the rest of your life to get into that.
    3. He is a master of the English language but no great linguistic skill is needed to read it.
    4. Portrait is the key: goes form young man ccky and triumphant to older wiser man to Molly who just likes good sausage.

  • Brenda

    taigs, reading it as a straight forward book looses a lot of the meaning, which I am told is very deep and still controversial.

    I lost the plot looking for the symbolism. But I think if you go among a group of highbrows and say you read it as a straight forward book, you may find yourself treated as fraiser craine would be if he described his vintage wine as plonk.

  • Rory

    To hell with the pretentious highbrows, Brenda. You can’t spend your (literary) life living in fear of their disapproval. Take Taigs’ good advice and just read it and take from it what you take. Your appreciation is as good as anyone else’s. In fact that’s a theme that underpins the book.

    I’m sorry I can’t help you there, Brother Louis. I see no reason why anyone should read anything really (apart from traffic signs), but, what the hell, who needs a reason?

    I loved the dummie’s guide. A stand alone masterpiece all on its lonesome.

  • Brenda

    i didn’t find it a good book rory, not like his others, i found it difficult to wade thru.

    The others, even with the symbolism are great. And the symblolism can be a very good talking point about joyce, I think its what makes him joyce. But you are right read for enjoyment, i agree with you.

  • lillybill

    The best way to read Ulysses is to read it out loud – it helps you hear all the sounds of the voices and noises of Dublin.

    The chapters on Sirens is brilliant, and you can’t beat The Citizen for an interesting discussion on Irish nationalism!

  • Good point lillybill. Joyce came second to Joun McCormack in the Feis and had a great ear,

    Brenda: Thomas Mann had a great entry to one of his great books to the effect that he read an analysis of it and couldn’t see where the critic got what he got out of the book. The old crack that Shakespeare would not pass an exam on Shakespeare springs to mind.

    I am also reminded of Hamlet. When he is asked waht he is reading, he says “Words”.