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Ulysses (1922) - James Joyce

Related: 1922 - adultery - James Joyce - plotlessness - Sylvia Beach - stream-of-consciousness - modernist literature - novel

In Search of Lost Time by French writer Marcel Proust notoriously rivals Joyce’s Ulysses in unreadability.

This extremely hard to read book (unless read with a dictionary at hand: it contains more than 30,000 distinct and often very obscure words) is considered one of the major contributions to the development of 20th century modernist literature. [May 2006]

Film adaptation: The 1967 film version was perhaps the first motion picture to use the word "fuck." [May 2006]

Quote: "He kissed the plump mellow yellow smellow melons of her rump, on each plump melonous hemisphere, in their mellow yellow furrow, with obscure prolonged provocative melonsmellonous osculation."

Thanks to American writer Ezra Pound, serial publication of the novel in the magazine The Little Review began in 1918. Unfortunately, a passage of the book dealing with the main character masturbating ran into censorship problems in the United States, and in 1920 the editors were convicted of publishing obscenity, resulting in an end to the serial publication of the novel. The novel remained banned in the States until 1933. [May 2006]


Ulysses (1922) - James Joyce [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

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. [...] --Book Description via amazon.com

Leopold Bloom

Leopold Bloom is a fictional character in James Joyce's novel Ulysses. He is a Jewish advertising agent introduced to us at the very beginning of episode 4 (Calypso) of the novel.

Throughout Ulysses Leopold Bloom is aware of an affair his wife Molly Bloom is having with her manager Blazes Boylan, and broods about the death of his child, Rudy. We also encounter his chauvinistic attitudes, a penchant for voyeurism and his unfaithful epistolary alter ego, Henry Flower. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leopold_Bloom [Jan 2006]

Collector's Publications edition

Some years ago, I acquired an unusual copy of "Ulysses." It is unfortunate that James Joyce never lived to see this edition, for there is reason to believe it would have given him a good chortle. A fat, innocuous white paperback published by "Collector's Publications," it initially drew my attention because of the words "Complete and Unexpurgated" displayed on its cover. That seemed an odd pitch for the major novel of the 20th century, but still odder things waited inside. For at the end of the book, right after Molly Bloom's soliloquy, there appeared several pages of advertisements for products of a highly personal nature, including a suction-activated penile enlargement device (complete with handy ruler), as well as numerous small, blurred reproductions of books rejoicing in such titles, if memory serves (the book has mysteriously vanished from my collection), as "Her Naughty Maid" and "Sailors in Heat." These books were available to the reader, if his onanistic needs had somehow not been satisfied by Joyce's sexciting, sexplosive tale of a middle-aged man wandering aimlessly around town.

The idea that "Ulysses" had been marketed as a stroke book was troubling. Who knew, I thought as I walked away from the store carrying Joyce in a plain brown wrapper, how many hapless souls the duplicitous Collector's Publications had duped over the years? With pity and terror I imagined them sneaking their prize home and eagerly opening its pages, only to realize, around the second paragraph (the one that goes "Introibo ad altare Dei") that liftoff would not be attained. Poldy Bloom himself, that old wanker, would most certainly not have been amused. --Gary Kamiya, Lust in the dust jackets, The Olympia Press and the Golden Age of Erotica http://www.salon.com/weekly/olympia960729.html [Jun 2004]

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