6 Reading Guides for James Joyce’s Ulysses

*To hear a discussion of some Ulysses reading guides, check out my interview with Tom O’Leary here.


I love Ulysses, but it can be a beast to get through. It’s a rewarding beast, but it’s nice to have a companion by your side while facing such a beast. It’s not necessary to have a reading guide if you’re reading Ulysses for the first time, but it’s very likely you will encounter references or full passages that are completely inscrutable. I created Blooms and Barnacles in part because I hope it can be a resource for people who need some help making sense of Ulysses’ tough bits.  Googling “Ulysses reading guide” will provide you with a plethora of options, in online, audio and dead-tree formats. If you’re shopping around for just the right guide, I have some suggestions.

Continue reading “6 Reading Guides for James Joyce’s Ulysses”

Ep. 1 – Tom O’Leary

T.C. O'Leary's, Portland, pubs, PDX, James Joyce, Ulysses, Bloomsday
Tom and Kelly on Bloomsday 2018

Tom O’Leary is an Irish-born actor and pub owner living in Portland, OR. He and Blooms and Barnacles host Kelly started the Ulysses Support Group (aka Book Club) together in 2017, and it is still going strong today! Kelly and Tom talk about why they love Ulysses, how to start your own Ulysses book club, Ulysses reading guides and why Ulysses helps Tom “go home” every time he reads it.

Stream here:

https://embed.simplecast.com/65fb6f3c?color=f5f5f5

IMG-5644 (1)

T.C O’Leary’s online:

websiteFacebook|Twitter |Instagram

Recommended Reading and Listening

  • The Bloomsday Book, by Harry Blamires
  • Ulysses Annotated, by Don Gifford
  • Ulysses audiobook, read by Jim Norton

Subscribe to Blooms and Barnacles:

iTunes | Google Play Music | Stitcher

Music

Noir – S Strong & Boogie Belgique

Joyce Ulysses literature Lady Gregory Yeats

James Joyce’s Poetic Rage

To put it nicely, James Joyce was a prickly pear. It’s well known that he left Dublin for continental Europe in 1904, never to return. His exile was self-imposed, but that didn’t stop him from metaphorically backing out of the room with two middle fingers raised. This reaction was simultaneously over-the-top and kind of justified. Joyce struggled to find his place amongst the literary set in Dublin because his own ego was frequently a major stumbling block. In fact, Joyce had a track record of throwing down poetically when things didn’t go his way. Joyce’s angry poetry reveals a lot about his personality and worldview, and since Ulysses is heavily autobiographical, it can help us understand where Joyce’s head was when he was constructing the oft unflattering portrayals of his friends in his novel.

 

The Holy Office

In order to understand this poem, we need to take a look at Joyce’s relationship with the movers and shakers behind the Irish Literary Revival underway in the early twentieth century. Often associated with people like W.B. Yeats, Lady Gregory and John M. Synge, this movement is associated with a flowering of Irish talent and a promotion of Irish traditional culture and nationalism. Though Joyce’s poetry is arguably in line with the style of the time, he felt that he was left behind by the literary bigwigs of his day.

Continue reading “James Joyce’s Poetic Rage”

Bloomsday Reading Recommendations

I had the pleasure of curating a series of readings for the 2018 Bloomsday celebration at T.C. O’Leary’s Pub in Northeast Portland, where members of their Ulysses Support Group (aka book club) read portions of the great novel at intervals throughout the day. I tried to choose passages that not only reflected the prose, characters and themes of Ulysses, but that also captured its humor, vulgarity and surrealism. I chose selections that would give the casual listener a taste of the story if they happened to hear all fourteen selections or feel entertained if they were only to catch one. Additionally, I tried to choose passages that would give readers dialogue to play with as an “actor” and capture some of our club’s favorite lines. I wanted to make sure the spirit of the novel came across more than its reputation for difficulty (although I didn’t avoid all the challenging passages). Most of all, I didn’t want it to be boring.

————–

Below, is brief description of each selected passage and why I chose it along with an approximate page number. I redacted portions of some of the passages since they were just too long (I tried to keep each passage in the 600-800 word range to keep the readings brisk and entertaining). My page numbers are based on the 1990 Vintage International edition of Ulysses.

Continue reading “Bloomsday Reading Recommendations”