Written over a seven-year period, from 1914 to 1921, this book has survived bowdlerization, legal action and controversy. The novel deals with the events of one day in Dublin, 16th June 1904, now known as "Bloomsday". The principal characters are Stephen Dedalus, Leopold Bloom and his wife Molly. "Ulysses" has been labelled dirty, blasphemous and unreadable. In a famous 1933 court decision, Judge John M. Woolsey declared it an emetic book - although he found it not quite obscene enough to disallow its importation into the United States - and Virginia Woolf was moved to decry James Joyce's "cloacal obsession".None of these descriptions, 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 its own way) suspenseful. And despite the exegetical industry that has sprung up in the last 75 years, "Ulysses" is also a compulsively readable book.
Runner-up for The BBC Big Read Top 100 2003.
Shortlisted for BBC Big Read Top 100 2003.
James Joyce was born in Dublin in 1882, but exiled himself to Paris at twenty as a rebellion against his upbringing. He only returned to Ireland briefly from the Continent but Dublin was at heart of his greatest works, Ulysees and Finnegans Wake. He lived in poverty until the last ten years of his life and was plagued by near blindness and the grief of his daughter's insanity. He died in 1941.