- Publisher: Cambridge University Press
- Online publication date: October 2014
- Print publication year: 2014
- Online ISBN: 9781139696425
- DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CCO9781139696425
Few books in the English language seem to demand a companion more insistently than James Joyce's Ulysses, a work that at once entices and terrifies readers with its interwoven promises of pleasure, scandal, difficulty and mastery. This volume offers fourteen concise and accessible essays by accomplished scholars that explore this masterpiece of world literature. Several essays examine specific aspects of Ulysses, ranging from its plot and characters to the questions it raises about the strangeness of the world and the density of human cultures. Others address how Joyce created this novel, why it became famous and how it continues to shape both popular and literary culture. Like any good companion, this volume invites the reader to engage in an ongoing conversation about the novel and its lasting ability to entice, rankle, absorb, and enthrall.
Few works have generated more critical commentary in the last century than Ulysses. There are now at least five peer-reviewed journals dedicated to Joyce, hundreds of scholarly monographs, and scores of guides, introductions, casebooks, and companions. In addition, there are four volumes of Joyce’s correspondence (with more now in preparation), several major biographies of Joyce and his family, a sixty-three-volume collection of his unpublished work, and – thanks to the patchwork expiration of copyright protections in various jurisdictions – a growing number of editions of Ulysses itself. For those first attempting to make their way through the book, such a mass of material can prove as daunting as the novel itself.
To provide some companionable guidance to such readers, I offer here a toolbox rather than a bibliography: a collection of resources essential to novice readers that provide overviews, historical contexts, and incisive interpretive aids. In addition, each of the essays in this volume contains a useful bibliography that will gradually lead interested readers to some of the many pathways through Ulysses.