Ulysses (novel)

Cover of the first edition
AuthorJames Joyce
GenreModernist novel
Set inDublin, 16–17 June 1904
PublisherSylvia Beach
Publication date
2 February 1922
Media typePrint: hardback
LC ClassPR6019.O8 U4 1922
Preceded byA Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man 
Followed byFinnegans Wake 
TextUlysses (novel) at Wikisource

Ulysses is a modernist novel by Irish writer James Joyce. It was first serialised in parts in the American journal The Little Review from March 1918 to December 1920 and then published in its entirety in Paris by Sylvia Beach on 2 February 1922, Joyce's 40th birthday. It is considered to be one of the most important works of modernist literature[1] and has been called "a demonstration and summation of the entire movement."[2] According to Declan Kiberd, "Before Joyce, no writer of fiction had so foregrounded the process of thinking".[3]

Ulysses chronicles the peripatetic appointments and encounters of Leopold Bloom in Dublin in the course of an ordinary day, 16 June 1904.[4][5] Ulysses is the Latinised name of Odysseus, the hero of Homer's epic poem the Odyssey, and the novel establishes a series of parallels between the poem and the novel, with structural correspondences between the characters and experiences of Leopold Bloom and Odysseus, Molly Bloom and Penelope, and Stephen Dedalus and Telemachus, in addition to events and themes of the early 20th-century context of modernism, Dublin, and Ireland's relationship to Britain. The novel is highly allusive and also imitates the styles of different periods of English literature.

Since its publication, the book has attracted controversy and scrutiny, ranging from an obscenity trial in the United States in 1921, to protracted textual "Joyce Wars". The novel's stream-of-consciousness technique, careful structuring, and experimental prose—replete with puns, parodies, and allusions—as well as its rich characterisation and broad humour, have led it to be regarded as one of the greatest literary works in history; Joyce fans worldwide now celebrate 16 June as Bloomsday.


Joyce first encountered the figure of Odysseus/Ulysses in Charles Lamb's Adventures of Ulysses, an adaptation of the Odyssey for children, which seems to have established the Latin name in Joyce's mind. At school he wrote an essay on the character, entitled "My Favourite Hero".[6][7] Joyce told Frank Budgen that he considered Ulysses the only all-round character in literature.[8] He thought about calling his short-story collection Dubliners (1914) by the name Ulysses in Dublin,[9] but the idea grew from a story written in 1906 to a "short book" in 1907,[10] to the vast novel that he began in 1914.

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