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by James Joyce

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About Book

Ulysses has been labeled dirty, blasphemous, and unreadable. In a famous 1933 court decision, Judge John M. Woolsey declared it an emetic book--although he found it sufficiently unobscene to allow its importation into the United States--and Virginia Woolf was moved to decry James Joyce's "cloacal obsession." None of these adjectives, 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 a close-focus sort of 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 sheer 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 might 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 indelible Dubliners. We watch them teach, eat, stroll the streets, 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 accordian 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 aesthetician, 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 naive curiosity) is something else entirely. Seen through his eyes, a rundown 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 upcast 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

The New York Times Book Review, Dr. Joseph Collins
Ulysses is the most important contribution that has been made to fictional literature in the 20th century. It will immortalize its author ...

"Ulysses will immortalize its author with the same certainty that Gargantua immortalized Rabelais, and The Brothers Karamazov immortalized Dostoyevsky.... It comes nearer to being the perfect revelation of a personality than any book in existence."
-The New York Times

"To my mind one of the most significant and beautiful books of our time."
-Gilbert Seldes, in The Nation

"Talk about understanding "feminine psychology"-- I have never read anything to surpass it, and I doubt if I have ever read anything to equal it."
-Arnold Bennett

"In the last pages of the book, Joyce soars to such rhapsodies of beauty as have probably never been equaled in English prose fiction."
-Edmund Wilson, in The New Republic

Book Description
Considered the greatest 20th century novel written in English, in this edition Walter Gabler uncovers previously unseen text. It is a disillusioned study of estrangement, paralysis and the disintegration of society.

Language Notes
Text: German, English (translation)

Download Description
The 1934 text, as corrected and reset in 1961. Ulysses is one of the most influential novels of the twentieth century. It was not easy to find a publisher in America willing to take it on, and when Jane Jeap and Margaret Anderson started printing extracts from the book their literary magazine The Little Review in 1918, they were arrested and charged with publishing obscenity. They were fined $100, and even The New York Times expressed satisfaction with their conviction. Ulysses was not published in book form until 1922, when another American woman, Sylvia Beach, published it in Paris for her Shakespeare & Company. Ulysses was not available legally in any English-speaking country until 1934, when Random House successfully defended Joyce against obscenity charges and published it in the Modern Library. This edition follows the complete and unabridged text as corrected and reset in 1961. Judge John Woolsey's decision lifting the ban against Ulysses is reprinted, along with a letter from Joyce to Bennett Cerf, the publisher of Random House, and the original foreword to the book by Morris L. Ernst, who defended Ulysses during the trial.

Inside Flap Copy
Considered the greatest 20th century novel written in English, in this edition Walter Gabler uncovers previously unseen text. It is a disillusioned study of estrangement, paralysis and the disintegration of society.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover
The first edition of Ulysses legally available in the United States was the Modern Library edition of 1934 issued after Random House defended the book against charges of obscenity. This volume reproduces the 1934 edition as corrected and reset in 1961. It includes a letter from James Joyce to Bennett Cerf, the publisher of the 1934 text; the decision by Judge John M. Woolsey lifting the ban on Ulysses; and a forward by Morris L. Ernst; who defended the book at the trial.

About the Author

James Joyce was born on February 2, 1882, in Rathgar, Dublin. He was one of ten children. He was educated at Jesuit schools and at University College, Dublin. A brilliant student of languages, Joyce once wrote an admiring letter in Norwegian to Henrik Ibsen. He went to Paris for a year in 1902, where he discovered the novel Les Lauriers Sont Coupes by Edouard Dujardin, whose stream-of-consciousness technique he later credited with influencing his own work. Following his mother's death, he returned to Ireland for a brief stay, and then left with Nora Barnacle, with whom he spent the rest of his life. They had two children, George and Lucia Anna, the latter of whom suffered in later years from schizophrenia. (Joyce and Nora were formally married in 1931.)

Joyce lived in voluntary exile from Ireland, although Irish life continued to provide the raw material for his writing. In Trieste, he taught English and made the acquaintance of the Italian novelist Italo Svevo. His first book, the poetry collection Chamber Music, appeared in 1907. The publication of the short story collection Dubliners was delayed repeatedly, and eventually the Irish publisher destroyed the proofs for fear of libel action; this prompted Joyce's final visit to Ireland in 1912. The book was eventually published in 1914 and greeted with acclaim by Ezra Pound, whose enthusiastic support helped Joyce establish a literary career. In 1915 Joyce and Nora moved to Zurich, and at the end of World War I they settled in Paris. His only play, Exiles, was published in 1918 and staged in Munich the same year without success. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, an autobiographical novel (developed from the embryonic, posthumously published Stephen Hero) tracing the artistic development of Stephen Dedalus, was published in 1916. By this time Pound and W. B. Yeats had succeeded in obtaining for Joyce some financial support through the Royal Literary Fund, but he continued to be in need of money for most of his life.

Joyce began to suffer from serious vision difficulties due to glaucoma; he would eventually be forced to undergo many operations and long periods of near-blindness. Ulysses, the epic reconstruction of the minutiae of a single day in Dublin--June 16, 1904--was serialized in The Little Review starting in 1918, and published in Paris (by the American Sylvia Beach through her bookstore Shakespeare & Company) in 1922, on his fortieth birthday. Due to censorship it remained unavailable in the United States until 1934 and in the United Kingdom until 1936. Except for a small volume of verse, Pomes Penyeach (1927), Joyce published nothing thereafter except extracts from the enormous work in progress that emerged as Finnegans Wake in 1939. In his later years he was closely associated with the young Samuel Beckett, whom he had met in 1928. After the German invasion of France, Joyce and Nora moved back to Zurich, where he died on January 13, 1941.



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