Ulysses, by James Joyce


A review in the Economist of Ulysses by James Joyce’s said: “There are two kinds of people. Those that have read "Ulysses" and those that haven't.” Both sides have extreme viewpoints and plenty of passion to fuel their position.  The extreme of one side might remember and celebrate June 16th, the day in which the entire story of "Ulysses" takes place in Dublin of 1904.  Others criticize the book saying it is pornographic, too long or too dense, or both.

Much like Shakespeare, it appeals to both the highbrow and lowbrow with an ongoing study of what it is to be human. The language which might be called a feast of words, also becomes almost noise and patter, but still resonates as poetry. The shear length of the book is daunting, but it allows for ongoing diversities of experiences within the overall story. 

The three main characters are Stephen Dedalus, Leopold Bloom and his wife, Molly. The characters and events of the novel loosely parallel the events in Odysseus journey home after the Trojan War.

The book is about a single day and begins at 8:00AM where Stephen prepares for the day and heads out. He teaches at a boy’s school, receives his pay and a letter from Deasy, and then goes for a walk on the beach.

Bloom serves his wife Molly breakfast in bed, brings her the mail, and goes to the post office to pick up a letter. At 11:00 AM Bloom attends the funeral of Paddy Dignam with Simon Dedalus, Martin Cunningham, and Jack Power.

Bloom wants to publish and advertisement and goes to a newspaper office. Stephen arrives with Deasy’s letter, and the editor agrees to publish it. Bloom walks through Dublin for a while, stopping to chat with Mrs. Breen.

In the National Library, Stephen stops and discusses his theories about Shakespeare and Hamlet with a poet. Bloom arrives, looking for a copy of an advertisement he had placed, and Buck shows up. Stephen and Buck leave to go to a pub as Bloom also departs.

Several meet Simon in the bar of the Ormond Hotel, and later Boylan arrives. Bloom had earlier seen Boylan’s car and followed it to the hotel where he dines. Boylan leaves on his way to his affair with Molly.

Bloom leaves the beach and finds Stephen and several of his friends, all drunk. He joins them and when the bar closes, Stephen and a friend head to a brothel. Bloom later finds him there getting into trouble and he takes him with him.  Later they take a cab head for Bloom’s home where Stephen is invited to stay but he declines and leaves. Bloom goes to bed with Molly and tells her of the day.


“Think you're escaping and run into yourself. Longest way round is the shortest way home.” 

“Love loves to love love.” 

“A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery.”

 “Shakespeare is the happy hunting ground of all minds that have lost their balance.”

“The supreme question about a work of art is out of how deep a life does it spring.” 

“I fear those big words, Stephen said, which make us so unhappy.”

“Every life is in many days, day after day. We walk through ourselves, meeting robbers, ghosts, giants, old men, young men, wives, widows, brothers-in-love, but always meeting ourselves.”