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3.9 out of 5 stars
Ulysses
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Showing 1-10 of 38 reviews(1 star)show all reviews
on June 25, 1999
You can't understand this book without a study guide. That fact alone should be enough to scare you away. One reviewer asks why a reader should have to work so hard to understand a novel and it is a good question, in my opinion. I think that a work of art which is not self-explanatory but which demands an additional volume and commentators in order to comprehend it is a failure. I heard one professor suggest that we should all take three years out of our lives to go through this book and to appreciate it fully. Yeah, right. I have never been too keen about anyone who thinks they know what I "should" do with my life. There are far too many other great and rewarding pleasures available to me in my life which are more easily accessible for me to waste my time deciphering what looks like the work of a schizophrenic. The modernist conceit is that Joyce and other non-linear novelists have captured the actual mental processes of man's daily life. Perhaps if you need medication and are plagued by mania, yes. My mental processes are not a mad jumble and I do not see how anyone with a professional occupation could function if this were true. It simply isn't so. There is a famous sex scene in this book where the mental thoughts of the individual coming to climax fills many pages. I asked around and no one I know thinks about anything while climaxing except for a sexual fantasy. Totally unrealistic.
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on May 22, 1998
Unfortunately, the first edition of *Ulysses* to be published in Dublin is not the edition of this book which anyone should read first. Danis Rose's decisions to normalize punctuation and spelling, to make intrusions into Joyce's prose on the basis of his own criteria of syntactic and semantic coherence rather than on textual evidence, and to re-insert apostrophes into Penelope (although he prints an alternate version of the chapter in an appendix) are only barely justifiable in terms of his own theory of editing -- and entirely alien to the "normal" practices of scholarly textual critics. This is quite a shame, because some of Rose's work on the manuscript evidence (as it is described in his introduction, quite interesting in itself) might potentially be of great importance to the textual study of *Ulysses*. Without an apparatus criticus, however, no one can tell for sure. Although (as Rose himself points out) there is and can be no absolutely "definitive" *Ulysses*, there are better places to start. Read Hans Walter Gabler's 1984 edition, keeping in mind its limitations (or, if you want a student's edition with good notes in the volume, use the reprint of the 1922 first edition, edited by Jeri Johnson for OUP, taking care to check out some of the more important alternate readings in Gabler's text). For those interested, a forthcoming issue of *James Joyce Quarterly* will include extensive discussion of Rose's edition and its merits.
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on May 21, 1998
Ulysses is one of my very favorite books. Even though I've read the novel many times, I'm not qualified to compare this new edition to its predecessors: I'm a commercial artist, not a literary scholar. I AM qualified, however, to complain about how badly produced this book is. Professor Rose refers in his intro to the important influence that editors, designers and printers have on a text. Careful analysis of those influences are the basis of the method he used to create this new edition. Well, too bad he wasn't able to influence the publisher. This edition of Ulysses is printed on very cheap paper -- the kind of dim gray brittle stuff that the cheapest of romance fiction is printed on. Fine for a book that will be read once, but terrible for a "Reader's Edition" of a classic that will be reread and annotated. These pages will be badly discolored in a few years. The typography is mediocre, too: the title page looks like the Bad Example in any design textbook. The newspaper-style headlines in the "Aeolus" chapter are barely readable -- of course the ink spread on that awful paper doesn't help. If you read this, Professor Rose, I'm sorry your efforts were presented so poorly.
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on July 21, 1998
Yes, ULYSSES is a mainstay of college literature. Yes, the book is a worthy literary endeavor. But for those who are not brutally devoted to the endless pursuit of mind-numbing genius, ULYSSES is tiresome, tedious, and passe. The appeal of reading the mind wanderings of a pasty, weak pseudo-intellectual grows stale after the first dozen pages. For those enterprising readers such as myself who feel guilty dumping a Joyce work after only a chapter, read on. It gets worse. Confession: the genius mind-maze that is Joyce is sometimes just not worth exploring. One would have better luck escaping the Minotaur than successfully exiting this lingual labyrinth. (Dr. Marcus Smith: I apologize for this heresy against the Modern Epic.)
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on September 28, 1998
I would have to say that I have easily read close to 1,000 books in my lifetime. I would also easily have to say that I have never read a book that was as incomprehensible as Ulysses. I really do not believe that one has to have cliffnotes or any type of 'helpers' to read and understand a book. Yet, I firmly believe that Ulysses should be accompanied by several texts explaining page by page what you just read. It was so disjointed and difficult to comprehend that I was beginning to question my sanity in even attempting to sift through it and find a plot. I would not recommend it to anyone and I feel sorry for English majors who are forced to read it. I chose to read it and would not make that choice a second time.
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on July 17, 2013
Ulysses is (to me) the most important novel of the 20th Century. I have read it nearly every June since the late 1950s. I obtained a Kindle a while back, and have been reading on it, as it is lighter to carry and to read in bed.

Unfortunately, much of Ulysses has been maimed in the transfer to electronics: the itemization of Bloom's expenses (in the Ithaca section) is rendered absurd by listing items on on scheen and the amounts on the next one. Molly's final soliloquy -- some of the finest half-dozen pages in English literature -- is made nonsensical as "I'll" is reproduced as III (Roman 3).

Ulysses is still a great novel: the Kindle version is a disaster.
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on May 29, 1999
that one star is for all the reviewers who in their five-star sycophancy insist that anyone who rates fewer than "six out of five" is obviously intellectually deficient, morally depraved and culturally illiterate. Ask yourselves, 'what did I *really* get from experiencing this work?' and see what you come up with. So far it seems only a desire to render predictable, sophomoric on-line reviews in the Q&A catechism style of the Ithaca episode....And for you who just doesn't feel the five-star bravado which so many others wield in touting Ulysses, it's OK- you're still a good person- and actually more the 'Everyman' for whom Joyce (supposedly) had sympathy.
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on July 29, 1998
I can not see why everyone thinks this book is so great. It reminds me of modern art, where a so called artist splashes paint on a canvas in ten minutes and then passes it off as a masterpiece. It probably took Joyce less time to write this novel than it took me to read it. If my grade hadn't depended on it, I would have put it down after ten minutes.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 12, 1999
You shouldn't have to be a literary expert to enjoy a novel. Why anyone would say this is the best novel of the 20th century is beyond me. Joyce seems to have many different themes going and breaks new literary ground in this lengthy novel - but why all in one work? This book is extremely difficult to read, to say the least.
This book has so much innuendo and hidden meanings that it makes your head spin! What's with all the foreign languages? A novel should be enjoyable and not so much a study guide. A blind man can see that ("tap tap tap tap").
What book would you wish upon your worst enemy?
Ulysses by James Joyce in any form.
Ghost of William Shakespeare
Friends, Romans, Countrymen - lend me your annotated copy of Ulysses!
Maybe Im being too hard on the book but I dont think so I will give it another shot in a few years with a copy of cliff notes in my hand but I dont think it will help very much can you read this you should check out the last chapter of this utterly pretentious socalled novel by the way dont tell reviewers of this or any book that they are inexperienced you shouldnt have to go to Joyce 101 to understand a novel I wish I could give no stars
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 14, 1999
To understand something of "Ulysses," one must firstlook at its publication in a historical perspective. Brought out inprint in a time when the banning of books was common practice in the war against "obscenity," Mr. Joyce's work was championed by all liberals everywhere--not so much on its artistic merits, but, rather, due to what it symbolized for them: The struggle of the artist against the State. As for the book itself,the writing was almost secondary. In fact, it was not just derided by philistines; many noteworthy authors--among whom number Virginia Woolf and Gertrude Stein--questioned its originality and its effectiveness. (For certainly, most of its now-thought "original techniques" had been used before by other writers to far better effect!) That is to say, "Ulysses" became more important for what it was SUPPOSED to represent than for what it actually was. As time passed and young people of a more liberal turn acceded to positions of social authority, "Ulysses" began to be, almost defiantly, hyped as a modernist masterpiece. This, of course, to tweek the nose of the older generation more than to herald a legitimate work of Art. As a result, whole generations of subsequent Americans have had imposed on them the the ready-made opinion that "Ulysses" holds an unassaible position in the Letters of the World; for, certainly, they fear to have attached to themselves the tag "Vulgarian" if they dare to express their own thoughts on this grossly over-rated book. No, truly, "Ulysses" is a triumph of propoganda that, when taken out of its historical context and judged squarely, falls flat, resuming its true proportions on an artistic level given it by great writers of the time: A dry, pedantic and boring farrago.
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