Writer: James Joyce
Publishing House: Vintage
Date of Publication: 1990 (first published February 2nd 1922)
Rating: 5 stars
“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.”
16 June 1904. Leopold Bloom wanders the streets and places of Dublin. Around him, everything becomes a dream, a menace, an opportunity, a disappointment, a wrath. His mind filled with thoughts of Molly Bloom, his own (very different) Penelope. His path crosses with the ‘’heroes’’ of his own Irish Odyssey. Is he willing to escape the Lestrygonians and the Wandering Rocks? The Sirens and the Cyclops? The traps of Aeolus? The seductive hallucinations of Circe? The playful innocence of Nausicaa?
“History, Stephen said, is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.”
In the course of one day, from Sandycove to Howth Head, Leopold traces Dublin Bay, at the side of the demons in his head. In a novel that has become a symbol, a shrine of Modernism and the finest Experimental example, Joyce gives us the city adventures of a troubled soul, the interactions of the bourgeois man and the bohemian student. The outsider within the boundaries of a metropolis. The sights, the smells, the sounds of Dublin as Bloom walks on and on, the body of a man in close proximity and struggle within the body of the city that nurtures and swallows its residents. The monologues of desperation and dissolution (or are his illusions fed even more?) give food for the legends that now accompany Bloom’s wanderings. Every building, every local spot becomes a story within the story, a station and a port for Leopold’s withered ship. An Odyssey of Dublin from its pubs and houses to its hospitals and graveyards with rhapsodies of sex, fellowship, trust and betrayal in an era that changes.
Banned in the USA and other countries on the grounds of obscenity, Ulysses remains a mystery even today. In our modern era when scenes are reenacted on Bloomsday, James Joyce masterpiece still troubles, hypnotizes and fascinates us.
“Shakespeare is the happy hunting ground of all minds that have lost their balance.”