James Joyce
Ulysses
Eight decades have passed since James Joyce started publishing
sections of this novel in
The Little Review, but Ulysses still stands
unsurpassed as a monument to the aspirations of the modernist
movement in literature.  What a dazzling ambition for a novel!  
Imagine trying to create a new language for fiction while
simultaneously swallowing up the Western canon from Homer to
Shakespeare to beyond.  Yet squeezing all of this into the
account of a single day in Dublin --  June 16, 1904 (now known as
Bloomsday to the initiated, and appreciated even by the
uninitiated as an impressive source of tourism dollars and pub
business in Ireland).  And how can we describe Joyce's influence,
which has been felt in the puns of Nabokov, the  logorrhea  of
Pynchon, and even the routines of the Firesign Theater.   Or you
can take the low road, and simply read Ulysses for
the dirty bits.  
But don't fool yourself:  although this can be a fun, exhilarating
book, it is also bloody hard work.  No wonder the
New York Times,
on its initial assessment (see link below), suggested that "not ten
men or women out of a hundred can read Ulysses through,"  (The
reviewer , Joseph Collins, goes on to claim that he may be the
only person, aside from the author, to have read the book twice
from cover-to-cover -- a claim that may very well have been true
back in 1922.  So be prepared:  roll up your sleeves, and bring
along some good guides (Elllman, Gifford and Seidman) as you
embark on this personal reading odyssey.  

WEB RESOURCES

Enjoy this parody of Ulysses complete with illustrations.

You probably wouldn't read Joyce's novel if you based your
decision on this
New York Times review of Ulysses from May 28,
1922.  
"The average intelligent reader will glean little or nothing from
it . . ."

No reading of Ulysses is complete without a Bloomsday course
map.  

Here is a
exceptional collection of James Joyce links on the web.

The entire text is available on-line at
Bibliomania.  
TIPS FOR READERS

I cursed that Irishman
and the day he was
born.  But I would
have been even more
lost at sea without the
constant help of
Ulysses Annotated:
Notes for James Joyce's
Ulysses by Don Gifford
and Robert Seidman.  
This reference work is
essential to grappling
with the countless
obscure references
that are part and
parcel of Joyce's work.