The first authorized, unabridged release of this timeless classic and exclusively available from Recorded Books. Ulysses records the events of a single day, June 16, 1904, in Dublin, Ireland.
I tried (and failed) several times to comprehend what was touted as perhaps the finest novel in the English language. I had given up until I heard, rather than tried to read Ulysses. Now I understand: the epic courage it takes to survive the death of a child (Bloom's and Molly's son Rudy) played out iin a single Dublin day. Beyond moving.. Everyone who has given up on Ulysses deserves a chance to get it. Thanks to the Joyce family, the narrator and Recorded Books.
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If you could sum up Ulysses in three words, what would they be?
Deepens the experience
What other book might you compare Ulysses to and why?
Homer's Odyssey -- it has as intricate plot and more - of course Joyce based his novel on the Odyssey - I also enjoyed the Odyssey as an outstanding Audiobook
What about Donal Donnelly’s performance did you like?
Donal Donnelly understands the book and conveys its meaning magnificently
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
No - stretch it out - and let it sink in
Any additional comments?
I have wanted to enjoy Ulysses for over 40 years -- this Audiobook has at last made it possible -- reading the Audiobook with the text in front of me enriches the experience further -- it is one of the profounder experiences of life and that is a fact -- thanks for bringing it to me!
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Ulysses is one of those books of which you tend to feel you should read it, if you're at all interested in literature. But many of us readers fail to get very far. I tried several times. Encouraged myself by going to a (fantastic) course, which helped a lot. But it was this audiobook that really got me right into Ulysses, loving it, admiring it and then returning with much better understanding to the written word. I am now a total fan of Ulysses, intend to read other works by Joyce (Portrait of the Artist, As a Young Man and The Dubliners) and I also intend to read this book and listen to the audiobook over and over again. In fact, I will start my own Bloomsday tradition and start from the beginning once a year on June 16.
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Any additional comments?
Ulysses is a big long book with a lot of words and it hurts when you drop it on your toe. Mind you, Ulysses isn't the first book I've dropped on my toe: A King James Bible, my family's Masonic Bible (which is exactly like the King James version except the word God had been completely edited out), Gravity's Rainbow (unironically), and The Unbearable Lightness of Being whose sharp corner wounded my little toe. However, aside from Pynchon, I've read every book that has fallen on my foot and so I have now moved on from being a person who has not read Ulysses to that rare breed of a bore who has. I now belong to a group that not even Joyce belonged to because, according to my edition's afterword, once the novel was printed (aside from some very minor errata) he finally gave up and stopped editing (and thus reading) the text all together. I can now claim the company to that special soggy breed of individual who drags their significant other to a day walking tour of Bloom's Dublin (minus the ocean-side masturbation) and who (aside from the people already from Ireland) are at least happy to be in Ireland.
Speaking of Bloom, he's the main character and he's as boring as the people who follow around in his imaginary footsteps and walk right past all the good drinking spots (because Bloom doesn't drink). All the people in the book who are not boring are all the sort of people in the world who would not ever read Ulysses - Molly (Bloom's wife), she gets around with every guy in town and doesn't even wash the sheet stains after, Simon Deadalus, Stephen's father, who is a real Irish piece of work and makes fun of Bloom every chance he gets, and there is a rat in the cemetery that gnaws away on the corpse of a dead main character, Dignam. To give you an idea of what sort of guy Bloom is, well if you ever find yourself in his company and look up at the sky and wonder aloud why is the sky blue, Bloom will give you the absolute correct scientific principle regarding the scattering of light and nitrogen and the rods and cones in our eyes and ... he'll take all the living fun out of the whole thing, regardless if the question was rhetorical.
But let's talk about the guy who wrote the book, James Joyce. Joyce is, as we all know, the greatest comedic novelist of all time and Ulysses is his grand comedic masterpiece. See, what Joyce does is he tricks a lot of really pretentious people into thinking that he is actually a genius because he knows a lot of big words and that there seems to be an awful lot of literary, artistic, historical, even mathematical references imbued into every ink stain of a sentence on every page. Those of us who know, however, know better. You see, Joyce cast the widest net possible when framing this uproarious little ditty - he cast it all the way back to ancient Greece (the founding of all western society) and then wrote his book in a western language! Isn't that hilarious? Oh, you don't quite see what I'm getting at? Well, it is a touch obscure at first, but bear with me. Since Joyce wrote the book in a western language he was forced to have to use words and phrases and cultural references that, in effect, date back to ancient Greece and thus connect to all of western civilization. No matter what Joyce wrote, it would always have a connection to some other thing in history! Now the trick Joyce uses is that by titling the book 'Ulysses' (there is no Ulysses in the book, by the way) he tricks a certain type of person's brain into thinking that every word he writes is a deliberate reference to some aspect of history, or art, or math, or philosophy, or some such over-education. For example, when he mentions a river (doesn't matter which one), some egg-headed scholar will add a footnote to the back of the book (and they'll do it as you're reading it, which is very annoying and you have to keep shooing these annoying pests away with the promise of some grant money or a recent tenure possibility) saying that what Joyce REALLY means by the river is the stream of consciousness, or the river Styx, or the passage of time - they'll relate it to anything EXCEPT whatever river Joyce mentions. Basically Joyce gets a lot of stupid-smart people to do all the work for him and all he had to do was give the book a famous Greek name, make the book really long, throw in some Latin, and there-you-have-it! And this has been going on for over 100 years now! Funniest damn thing in the history of literature. Hell, he even says in the book that the priests hold a lot of their power because the congregation doesn't even speak the Latin the mass is said in! It's like Joyce is daring us!!
His other great comedy routine is his stated desire to re-invent the novel (and even attempt to give the Irish their masterpiece) but then he just only goes about copying the styles of writing done by other people! In one chapter we get a bunch of newspaper headline, another is a really bad play that goes on for 200 pages and is about nothing at all, another is a series of Socratic questions ... goes on and on. He literally does nothing new yet manages to trick a lot of well-meaning people into thinking that copying is actually inventing!
Anyway, you might be wondering if I even liked the book. Well, yes, I did. In fact I loved it, but in that way a mother loves a child that has grown up to be a serial rapist and murderer who is currently serving ten consecutive life sentences in San Quentin - you love them, but it's not easy and you do it because you sort of can't help it and because they need you to love them and because you feel like God is making sure you love them or else He'll send you hell if you give up on them.
It's also the most positive book about humanity ever written. Joyce connects every aspect of our humble, daily lives and shows us how epic and rich even one, simple life can be. The novel even ends with the most positive word in English "yes" because Joyce is saying that no life is too unimportant, too small, no person is too marginalized or morally bankrupt, or sleazy, or noble, to not not deserve respect. No other book does this - no other book connects our own ordinary lives to that of Homer, or 5000 years of history, art, culture, religion - all of it, we're a part and product of everything that came before and life is brief and we should be grateful for it. That's why it's a 5-star book because it doesn't just say life is precious - he proves it. It's like nothing ever written. Yet it's a tough book to love, it's difficult, it's obtuse, it's obscure, it will make you want to throw it across the room out of frustration and confusion, it wont make any sense half the time, it will challenge every nerve ending in your brain - but that's why it's worth it. Life is difficult and this book is difficult. Life isn't a Nicholas Sparks, life-affirming, tell us what we want to hear sort of thing - life is Ulysses. The book is for everyone, and it's for nobody, too. I don't know who I'd ever recommend the book too because you just gotta find your own way to and through it. I will say that it's worth all the pain, like giving birth to an fitful child.
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The book seemed to me to be an enjoyable stream of consciousness. It was very well read but hard to follow. This would be better read than listened to. Seemed hard to follow and I ended up backing up to figure out the current setting several times. In the end I resigned myself to not closely following the story and just enjoying the dialog.
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I had read the book in college and have always wanted to revisit, but was daunted by the length and complexity. This performance really brings the characters, the story, the whole day to life. Can't say enough about what an achievement this performance is. Even when not understanding something it gives you the opportunity to admire Joyce's linguistic finesse.
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Would you consider the audio edition of Ulysses to be better than the print version?
Don't know. I never would have stuck with it if I had to read it on paper.
What was one of the most memorable moments of Ulysses?
Molly Bloom at the end. If I wasn't married...
Have you listened to any of Donal Donnelly’s other performances before? How does this one compare?
First time but I immediately downloaded 'A portrait of the Artist as a Young Man'. He's terrific.
If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?
Fear and Loathing in 1904 Dublin. (with sex)
Any additional comments?
Reading all the stuff I should have read in college. Well most of it anyway. This was quite an experience.
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I must admit that I am not that smart to really understand what Joyce was trying to say. I have tried reading it on several occasions to no avail. Hearing the book made it so much easier to understand the chain of consciousness aspects of the narrative. Now, I will have to finish the Great Course in Ulysses to get an even better understanding.
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Any additional comments?
I started out enjoying this book. It was funny and interesting but the further I went the less I liked it. It was like a bad acid trip. I closed the book when he got into extended bathroom talk. I get the idea of stream of consciousness and this is an important book. At the suggestion of a friend I'm going to read some early Joyce and see what I think of that. My friend thinks reading Ulysses as a first time of reading Joyce is "a bit too much for almost anyone". We'll see
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Thank you James Joyce for reminding me that stream of consciousness is terrible. I won't make that mistake again.
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When will James Joyce will finally be studied at school in every English lessons (not only in UK)?
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