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James Joyce Ulysses

James Joyce’s 1922 novel Ulysses may be one of the most complex, famous, and unread novels in the English language. Written between 1914 and 1921, Ulysses is one of the most important modernist novels, detailing one day in the life of Leopold Bloom, 16 June 1904. Throughout the novel, Bloom is compared to the hero of the Odyssey.

James Joyce Ulysses

Ulysses is divided into eighteen chapters, or “episodes” as Joyce called them, and largely appears chaotic in structure. However, Joyce carefully crafted the book and each episode has a theme and structure that parallels the Odyssey. Large sections of the work are written in stream of consciousness, and the work was subject to charges of obscenity at the time of its initial publication.

The novel was originally serialize for publication in America in the magazine The Little Review between 1918 and 1920, until the journal was sued for obscenity. In Episode 13, Bloom masturbates while secretly watching a young girl undress. The end result of the trial banned Ulysses from the United States from 1920 to 1933.

T.S. Eliot called the book one of the most important ever published. Joyce has been praised for expanding the boundaries of literature with his use of metaphors and symbols that intertwine throughout the book.

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