Author: James Joyce
File Size: Single PDF File (3.48 MB)
Ulysses is a modernist novel by Irish writer James Joyce. It was first serialised in parts in the American journal The Little Review from March 1918 to December 1920 and then published in its entirety in Paris by Sylvia Beach on 2 February 1922, Joyce’s 40th birthday. It is considered to be one of the most important works of modernist literature and has been called “a demonstration and summation of the entire movement”. According to Declan Kiberd, “Before Joyce, no writer of fiction had so foregrounded the process of thinking”.
Ulysses chronicles the peripatetic appointments and encounters of Leopold Bloom in Dublin in the course of an ordinary day, 16 June 1904. Ulysses is the Latinised name of Odysseus, the hero of Homer’s epic poem the Odyssey, and the novel establishes a series of parallels between the poem and the novel, with structural correspondences between the characters and experiences of Leopold Bloom and Odysseus, Molly Bloomand Penelope, and Stephen Dedalus and Telemachus, in addition to events and themes of the early 20th-century context of modernism, Dublin, and Ireland’s relationship to Britain. The novel is highly allusive and also imitates the styles of different periods of English literature.
It is 8 a.m. Buck Mulligan, a boisterous medical student, calls Stephen Dedalus (a young writer encountered as the principal subject of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man) up to the roof of the Sandycove Martello tower where they both live. There is tension between Stephen and Mulligan, stemming from a cruel remark Stephen has overheard Mulligan making about his recently deceased mother, May Dedalus, and from the fact that Mulligan has invited an English student, Haines, to stay with them. The three men eat breakfast and walk to the shore, where Mulligan demands from Stephen the key to the tower and a loan. Departing, Stephen declares that he will not return to the tower tonight, as Mulligan, the “usurper”, has taken it over.
Stephen is teaching a history class on the victories of Pyrrhus of Epirus. After class, one student, Cyril Sargent, stays behind so that Stephen can show him how to do a set of arithmetic exercises. Stephen looks at the ugly face of Sargent and tries to imagine Sargent’s mother’s love for him. Stephen then visits school headmaster Garrett Deasy, from whom he collects his pay and a letter to take to a newspaper office for printing. The two discuss Irish history and the role of Jews in the economy. As Stephen leaves, Deasy said that Ireland has “never persecuted the Jews” because the country “never let them in”. This episode 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.”
Stephen finds his way to Sandymount Strand and mopes around for some time, mulling various philosophical concepts, his family, his life as a student in Paris, and his mother’s death. As Stephen reminisces and ponders, he lies down among some rocks, watches a couple whose dog urinates behind a rock, scribbles some ideas for poetry and picks his nose. This chapter is characterised by a stream of consciousness narrative style that changes focus wildly. Stephen’s education is reflected in the many obscure references and foreign phrases employed in this episode, which have earned it a reputation for being one of the book’s most difficult chapters.
The narrative shifts abruptly. The time is again 8 a.m., but the action has moved across the city and to the second protagonist of the book, Leopold Bloom, a part-Jewish advertising canvasser. The episode opens with the famous line, ‘Mr. Leopold Bloom ate with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls.’ Bloom, after starting to prepare breakfast, decides to walk to a butcher to buy a pork kidney. Returning home, he prepares breakfast and brings it with the mail to his wife Molly as she lounges in bed. One of the letters is from her concert manager Blazes Boylan, with whom Molly is having an affair. Bloom is aware that Molly will welcome Boylan into her bed later that day, and is tormented by the thought. Bloom reads a letter from their daughter Milly Bloom, who tells him about her progress in the photography business in Mullingar. The episode closes with Bloom reading a magazine story named Matcham’s Masterstroke by Mr. Philip Beaufoy, and defecating in the outhouse.