Bernard O’Donoghue

Re: Joyce

Ulysses and Us: The Art of Everyday Living

By

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There is an old dilemma for the reader – or teacher – of Joyce’s Ulysses: whether or not to embark on a reading without introductory guidance. Joyce himself recognised the problem by giving ‘schemas’, of debatable usefulness, to Carlo Linati and Stuart Gilbert. Gilbert’s 1930 book is still a valuable guide, as are Richard Ellmann’s Ulysses on the Liffey and – above all perhaps – the various editions of Harry Blamires’s Bloomsday Book. There is no doubt that some parts of Ulysses are a demanding read, with or without direction. And it has often been noted that there is an irony in the fact that this novel celebrating the common man is written in a form that the common man cannot easily understand; that, in the words of Terry Eagleton’s song, Joyce is ‘the greatest Irish genius that nobody can read’.

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