This book was well worth the money and time invested - a master work which was read accurately and in keeping with the spirit and culture of the writer. The Irish accents of each character were deftly done and easy to identify for without the changes in irish dialect for different characters it would have been very difficult to follow - this book is like Shakespeare - easier followed when performed than when read. Some of the passages were in turn hilarious and disturbing - I was constantly impressed by the narrators skills. The book is NOT AN EASY LISTEN - it requires and deserves a lot of concentration which many folks wont be interested in giving it - it took me a long time to get through, but it was entirely worth it and I doubt if I would have had the stamina to read through the book. The narrators accents and infusion of life and character into the text were wonderful. I intend to listen to this one at least twice to get full richness of the work - Highly recommended.
Now living in Estes Park, Colorado.
The narration is flawless. NOT too fast... NOT mumbled...excellent modulation and everything...
The audio quality is excellent.
The writing is fascinating. It is not a novel which you try to "follow". If you do , you end up writing a negative review of it. The style is stream of consciousness, so you just let it flow in, through and around you.
I could never have read through the whole thing, so I'm grateful for this wonderful recording.
I have never heard a better reading of a novel than this amazing version of Ulysses. What a great reading! The spoken word brings this work so vividly to life, with all its accents, inflections, stage directions, and the music of the language. It is actually easier to follow and understand than reading the book itself. An unforgettable, wonderful experience! Highly recommended.
First things first, hats off to Jim Norton for an inspired interpretation of what is not an easy read by any stretch of the imagination. Norton at least makes it possible for the listener to, by and large, keep up with what's happening. Most of the time.
Look, I can see why people rave about the genius of the book. The wildly shifting narratives are blinding to keep up with, especially the stream-of-consciousness chapters, and it must be a special talent that can not only put us in these different peoples' heads, but also parallel Homer's Odyssey in the process. I'm not familiar with Homer and am not particularly inclined to investigate, but all this still could not distract me from the fact that very little of interest is ever actually happening. I think that might kind of be the point though.
At the end of the day, it was on my bucket list to get through this so I'm really glad that I did it. But I would never say this was even close to being a fun read or a riveting story, so I would only recommend this to people who want that sense of satisfaction you might get by having read the book that all that fuss was over.
I've listened to several versions of this novel (or parts of them), including one by Donal Donelly and the newer one by John Lee; and while they all have their points of interest, this one captures the music best. I mean that literally: when one of the characters sings, Jim Norton sings too, rather than repeating the lyrics in sing-song fashion; and period music, including a number of titles specifically mentioned in the text, are scattered throughout. Norton has an incredible ability to mimic different characters in dialogue.
There are two flaws, but I can't bring myself to detract from the overall rating for either of them. First, the text used is an older one and includes a few misprints. Second, Jim Norton's volume varies considerably between the narrative and the dialogue. At times the narrative is almost whispered, and at times the dialogue is almost shouted. I found myself reaching often for the volume button. Even with that, though, Norton has one of the most pleasingly vibrant voices I've heard on any audiobook.
If you're going to tackle this book, have some kind of study guide at hand. It doesn't have to be TOO scholarly -- even SparkNotes will get you through some of the rougher patches. Or have the text itself to read along.
And don't forget to laugh. Despite its apparently pointless meandering through the streets of Dublin, this is one of the funniest books ever written.
Business Physicist and Astronomer
This is probably as close to perfection as an audio book can be. The narration is excellent. The music tracks are perfect. The production values outstanding.
This is no easy piece of writing to grasp. It takes some background study---read Dubliners and Portrait of an Artist and the Odyssey first. Study them. Then pick up a couple good commentaries on this book---forget the quick notes.
A lot of work? Sure. Enjoyable? It's an experience more than a listen. The writing is beyond masterful. There are passages and chapters that will touch your core---some will leave a scar. It's that good.
This audio book isn't for everyone. But again, it could not be better.
This is an epic to savor, a recording of such quality, read with such care, that I am NOT looking forward to the day when I hear the final words. Jim Norton makes the work of comprehending the many-layered references palatable and enjoyable; his various accents and characterizations allowed me to differentiate the different narratives; and his warmth and elocution made it a riveting experience. I highly recommend this book. In addition, let me say that you will get even more from it if you also order, from The Teaching Company (online), a series of 24 lectures by Professor James Heffernan of Dartmouth College on Joyce's Ulysses. I won't give the URL here, but it's easy enough to find. WIth the unabridged Naxos audiobook and the lectures, you will have an enriching, if somewhat exhausting, educational experience.
I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.
I???ll rap rapturously about Ulysses, one day in the Dublin life of Joyce???s Odysseus, Leopold Bloom, as divinely read by the inspired Jim Norton. Norton smoothly moves among myriad accents, from the mild educated Irish of Bloom to the thick Irish of drunken local cronies, while ably babbling in British (cockney and upper crust), French, German, Italian, and Spanish accents. He even barks as a dog, meows as a cat, clucks as a hen, burbles as a baby, laughs as a horse, and sings, too, in the voice of whatever character happens to be singing. And Marcella Riordan reads Molly Bloom???s mesmerizing closing monologue with perfect thought and feeling.
Many things in Ulysses flew by me: the phrases in Latin and modern Romance languages; the references to Irish culture and politics; the identity of the Man in the Macintosh; the stream of consciousness memories and allusions; and the gargantuan vocabulary, by turns lushly sensual, eruditely scientific, beautifully ringing, coarsely slangy, and amusingly anachronistic. It helped to listen first to A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, the prequel to Ulysses, to ease in to Joyce???s exuberant approach to life and language. And the Naxos notes to Ulysses (downloaded pdf from Audible) helped, giving the chapter-by-chapter Homeric Odyssey titles and brief summaries of the different scenes.
Finally, I had a weltering, ecstatic experience. Joyce laughs at his flawed, eloquent, and human characters with wry glee, but he also loves them. It's exciting to start each new chapter anticipating what narrative and stylistic antics Joyce will put his people up to next. The novel is an encyclopedic cyclopean paean to life and art: ugly, beautiful, earthy, sublime, sexy, spiritual, sad, funny, ironic, heroic, playful, philosophical, particular, universal, scientific, poetic, honest, artificed, vernacular, elevated, irreverent, moving, challenging, searching, rewarding, and humane.
A selected list of contents: mastication, alimentation, defecation, imbibition, micturition, expectoration, menstruation, masturbation, prostitution, fornication, copulation, reproduction, delectation, aromatization, introspection, retrospection, altercation, conversation, calculation, impersonation, imagination, hallucination, narration, enumeration, divagation, versification, harmonization, sanctification, transformation, affirmation--yes.
This book has all the things which annoy me about supposed "great" literature.
It is excessively poetic. (Not a fan of poetry).
It is wordy for the sake of it. (Big fan of directness).
There is relatively little direct narrative. (I like a plain and simple central thread).
Its full of clever devices. (Like my English not mucked about with)
But it is magnificent! I'm pretty sure that I didn't properly follow a lot of it but it doesn't matter. Some of the words made no sense but the sounded beautiful. Some of the scenes were meaningless to me but they were magic to listen to. The whole thing was a joy to listen to.
One of the other reviewers suggest that you should be familiar with this book in print before listening to this but I disagree. I suspect that if I had tried to read this from paper I would have made it t about page 12 before throwing it out of a window. It was made to be read out loud and if there is a better version available than this I'm not sure I would be able to cope with it.
Jim Norton gives each character just enough depth to make him distinguishable wthout creating any cartoon Irishmen in the process. There are a few sections read in a female voice. (Marcella Riordan - who should get a narrators credit). Double handed narration can be clumsy but this is perfectly judged. Overall - an excellent listen.
I have been thinking about tackling this book for years and this audio finally gave me courage. I cannot imagine to going through it with out it. I listened to each chapter first following the text in the book and then second time just listening and enjoying poetry of the language. Highly recommend.