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The Cambridge Companion to <I>Ulysses</I>
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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.

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Further Reading

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more now in preparation), several major biographies of Joyce and his family, a sixty-three-volume collection of his unpublished work, and – thanks to the patchwork expiration of copyright protections in various jurisdictions – a growing number of editions of Ulysses itself.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.

General Introductions

Blamires, Harry. The New Bloomsday Book. 3rd Edition. New York: Routledge, 1996. A detailed paraphrase of each episode of the novel that essentially retells the story in lucid prose. Very useful if you find yourself losing track of the narrative’s events, but treats style as utterly distinct from content.
Gilbert, Stuart. James Joyce’s “Ulysses”: A Study. 1930. New York: Vintage, 1955. The earliest introduction to the book, containing the first published schema as well as summaries of the episodes that focus on the Homeric parallels. Contains a great deal of summary and quotation. Still a useful guide, despite its age.
Kenner, Hugh. Ulysses. Revised Edition. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1987. A general introduction from perhaps the very best close reader of the text. Devotes chapters to major topics while also tracking the plot of the book.
Kiberd, Declan. Ulysses and Us: The Art of Everyday Life in Joyce’s Masterpiece. New York: Norton, 2009. A chapter-by-chapter study of the book that emphasizes Joyce’s engagement with the mysteries of everyday life and the importance of the novel’s Irish contexts.
Lawrence, Karen. The Odyssey of Style in “Ulysses.”Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1981. A useful counterbalance to Blamires that focuses on the changing styles of the book, tracking the way the story shifts its focus from character to language and form.

Reference Works

Fargnoli, Nicholas, and Michael Gillespie. James Joyce A–Z. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995. An encyclopedia with listings covering Joyce’s life as well as the characters, symbols, and references in his work.
Gifford, Don, and Robert J. Seidman. “Ulysses” Annotated. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988. The most widely used reference book in Joyce studies, it provides detailed annotations of individual passages and references. Should be used cautiously by first-time readers, because its level of detail can quickly cloud the movement of the narrative.
Gunn, Ian, and Clive Hart. James Joyce’s Dublin. New York: Thames & Hudson, 1975.
A mapping project that tracks the events of Bloomsday through the streets and interiors of 1904 Dublin.
Norburn, Roger. A James Joyce Chronology. New York: Palgrave, 2004. A year-by-year annotated list of events in Joyce’s life. Although it lacks narrative structure, it does provide a clear timeline that can sometimes be difficult to extract from the major biographies.

Joyce’s Life

Bowker, Gordon. James Joyce: A New Biography. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2012. Although lacking the level of scholarly detail and citation Ellmann offers, this recent study provides an informative narrative account of Joyce’s life.
Budgen, Frank. James Joyce and the Making of “Ulysses.” 1934. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1960. Although somewhat breezily written, this early biography was prepared under Joyce’s supervision and is thus packed with fascinating information about the writer’s creative process.
Ellmann, Richard. James Joyce. New and Revised Edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 1982. One of the most famous biographies of the twentieth century, this massive volume remains the standard scholarly account of Joyce’s life and work. The revised edition features a detailed index.
Joyce, James. Letters and Selected Letters. 4 Volumes. Stuart Gilbert and Richard Ellmann eds. New York: Viking Press, 1966, 1975. Together, these four volumes contain a wide array of Joyce’s correspondence and are very well indexed. These contain only a portion of Joyce’s letters, however, and a new collection of unpublished correspondence will appear starting in 2016.
McCourt, John. The Years of Bloom: James Joyce in Trieste 1904–1920. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2000. Focuses on the years Joyce spent in the city where Ulysses took its initial shape. Although lacking Ellmann’s scope, it does attend carefully to the city’s unique culture and its effect on Joyce’s imagination.

Manuscripts and Early Versions

This is not an exhaustive list of archival sources for Ulysses, given that manuscript and other pre-publication materials are spread among numerous libraries in Ireland, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Listed here are some of the major resources that might provide a starting point for those interested in Joyce’s composition process. With the exception of Gabler, different editions of Ulysses itself are not provided because these have now become numerous.
Groden, Michael, Hans Walter Gabler, David Hayman, and Danis Rose with John O’Hanlon, eds. The James Joyce Archive. 63 Volumes. New York: Garland, 1977–79. A facsimile edition that collects much of the pre-publication material for all of Joyce’s works, including notesheets, notebooks, drafts, and placards. The material relating to Ulysses is concentrated in volumes 12–27. Must now be supplemented with additional materials, especially the items available online at the National Library of Ireland.
Joyce, James. Ulysses: The Critical and Synoptic Edition. 3 Volumes. Hans Walter Gabler ed., with Wolfhard Steppe and Claus Melchior. New York: Garland, 1984. This three-volume edition of Ulysses provides a somewhat controversial reading text, which became the basis of the 1986 Ulysses: The Corrected Text (the text cited throughout this companion). For scholars, its real use resides in its careful recording of the numerous textual variants. Interpreting Gabler’s system for recording these variants, however, is a difficult task.
The Joyce Papers c.1903–1928. National Library of Ireland. Accessed April 2014. Digital reproductions of more than 700 pages of manuscript and pre-publication material, including several drafts of episodes from Ulysses. The online finding guide provides detailed information about the various items and a useful overview is offered by Luca Crispi, “A First Foray into the National Library of Ireland’s Joyce Manuscripts: Bloomsday 2011,” Genetic Joyce Studies 11 (2011);

Major Critical Studies and Collections

Adams, Robert Martin. Surface and Symbol: The Consistency of James Joyce’s “Ulysses.”Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1962. An early and lucidly written study of the novel that explores the productive tension between the book’s simultaneous commitment to realist detail and symbolic abstraction.
Attridge, Derek. James Joyce’s “Ulysses”: A Casebook. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. Features twelve major essays on the novel covering a range of perspectives. A useful place to go after finishing this Companion.
Davison, Neil. James Joyce, “Ulysses,” and the Construction of Jewish Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998. A study of Joyce’s engagement with the major debates of his day surrounding Jewish identity and the ways these shaped his construction of Leopold Bloom.
Devlin, Kimberly and Marilyn Reizbaum, eds. “Ulysses” – En-Gendered Perspectives: Eighteen New Essays on the Episodes. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1999. A widely cited collection of essays on Joyce and feminism. It functions as a kind of counterpart to Hart and Hayman.
Duffy, Enda. The Subaltern “Ulysses.” One of several major studies that helped initiate postcolonial readings of the novel by attending carefully to its distinctly Irish contexts. Readers interested in these issues should also look at books and essays by Emer Nolan, Vincent Cheng, and Declan Kiberd.
Gibson, Andrew. Joyce’s Revenge: History, Politics, and Aesthetics in “Ulysses.”Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. A detailed historical reading of Ulysses that considers the way Joyce’s book resists and critiques British imperial practices in Ireland.
Groden, Michael. “Ulysses” in Progress. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1977. A still foundational study of the way Joyce created Ulysses; it tracks the development of the book from a handful of notebooks through it numerous drafts and revisions. Although some of the information has been superseded by more recent manuscript discoveries, its basic outline of Joyce’s writing process remains essential reading.
Hart, Clive and David Hayman, eds. James Joyce’s “Ulysses”: Critical Essays. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977. Eighteen essays by major figures in mid-century Joyce studies. Each focuses on a single episode of the novel and offers a close, often influential reading of the text.
Norris, Margot. Virgin and Veteran Readings of “Ulysses.”New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011. A masterful and clearly written study of the book that focuses on its narrative elements including plot, character, suspense, and resolution.
Pearce, Richard. Molly Blooms: A Polylogue on “Penelope” and Cultural Studies. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1994. A collection of essays that reconsider not only the final chapter of the book but Molly Bloom more generally from a variety of critical perspectives including feminism, cultural studies, and postcolonialism.

Other Resources

James Joyce Quarterly. The international journal of record for Joyce studies, it publishes articles, notes, reviews, images and “entertainments” on all aspects of the author’s life, work, and afterlife. It also features the “James Joyce Checklist” in each issue – a comprehensive survey of work by and about Joyce published throughout the world.
James Joyce Checklist Online, A digital compilation of the JJQ’s quarterly bibliography of Joyce criticism. It can be searched by topic, title, and author, making this the richest, most efficient place to begin researching any topic in Joyce studies.
International James Joyce Foundation. The central organization devoted to Joyce studies, it hosts a biennial symposium, offers graduate student travel fellowships, and publishes a regular newsletter.
Joyce Studies Annual. This journal publishes long-form scholarship on Joyce in addition to journal-style articles.
Dublin Joyce Journal. Published at University College Dublin, this relatively new publication features articles on Irish aspects of Joyce’s life and writing.
James Joyce Broadsheet. Offers reviews and short commentaries as well as notes on Joyce-related events throughout the world.
James Joyce Literary Supplement. A biannual publication of book reviews with occasional short articles.
Hypermedia Joyce Studies, An online annual originally founded to publish scholarship on Joyce that might leverage the critical potential of hypertext. Now largely publishes critical essays.
Genetic Joyce Studies, A digital journal published annually that focuses on Joyce’s writing process and the development of his works from notes to published texts.
Modernist Versions Project: Ulysses, A digital edition of the 1922 Ulysses. Part of a larger project, it will eventually allow readers to compare different versions of the text.
Joyce Images, A rich collection of historical images from 1904 Dublin, all linked to individual episodes of Ulysses. As a whole, the site offers a terrific sense of the visual culture from which the novel emerged.


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