I value intelligent stories with characters I can relate to. I can appreciate good prose, but a captivating plot is way more important.
I've been working my way through the classics here on audible. After tackling Moby-Dick, I felt confident that I could take on an even denser novel. Ulysses had an intimidating reputation, and I was ready for a challenge... but I was not ready for this festering pile of nonsense.
This is not so much a novel, as it is a literary puzzle. This isn't a book to be read, it's a series of sentences that need to be decoded. I hated it instantly. And I'm literally angry at the conga-line of academics that conspired to have this thing labeled as one of The Greats. It isn't. It's a masterbatory exercise by James Joyce, which was lauded as genius by those elite few who were so entrenched in the bubble of high-literature scholarship that they could actually understand pieces of it.
I listened to the first few chapters, and had the cliff-notes open so that I could understand what was going on. After a little while I decided that it just wasn't worth it. There was no pleasure to be derived from this tale beyond the pleasure of decrypting it. When it comes to that, I'd rather do a crossword puzzle.
Life is too short to waste time reading (or listening to) Ulysses.
A brief shout out to the narrator, whose inflections (and singing) were the only things that gave me any hint of what was going on.
You can actually learn a tremendous amount about Irish History, Church history, western culture and classical education by reading Ulysses. A monumental work that has been brought back to the epic oral tradition by Jim Norton.
Now in my opinion, this book would be completely inaccessible without Jim Norton. With Jim Norton, the book is accessible, but only with a lot of interest and curiosity. I enjoy it for the "inversion" Joyce pulls on the Odyssey. Ithaca is Ireland and Odysseus is a Jewish man that nobody seems to consider their equal.
Ulysses is best appreciated after having read Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (to understand Joyce's Stephen Character, and his issues with Ireland) and Homer's Odyssey (the mythic underpinning of the book). Also needed is Gifford's "Annotated Ulysses" which explains the Irish/Church history references as well as the puns and all of the references to 19th century poetry that Joyce laces throughout.
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.
Love to read, and Audible has made the two-hour daily commute enjoyable!
I've decided for awhile that I wanted to read "Ulysses" - which really seems like a marathon for readers. I tried reading it once, and couldn't get the rhythm of the language. Jim Norton and Marcella Riordan's reading helped me over that hurdle. I also had the book in front of me, and I used "Ulysses Annotated" by Don Gifford to help me with all the glorious historical, literature, musical, biblical references, along with the 1904 Dublin slang.
I would recommend this recording to anybody interested in experiencing the novel that changed literature.
I can't do it. I downloaded this book because it's on all of the Greatest Books of All Time lists. It's too difficult to listen to, although the performance is very good. It's too disjointed and hard to follow unless you're in a quiet room all alone with Cliffsnotes by your side.
I could never have read this classic, but as a spoken book with the amazing narration it was achievable. At times it was excruciating, at times exhilarating, like plunging into cold water, or ripping off a band aid, some sections I could only do a minute at a time, I felt a great sense of achievement when I got to the end. If you ever felt compelled to explore this infamous book, this is a great way to do it.
It was so easy to become engrossed in the characters and the mood of the moment, that I often forgot I was in the middle of this monumental work! Jim Norton's range is remarkable - he made every character's voice as distinct as a fingerprint. He had obviously given careful thought to the sounds of the words, and these sounds rolled off his tongue as though he were making them up. The same goes for Marcella Riordan's characterization of Molly. I'm sure the direction accounted for this as well. I have heard no better audio rendition, and I have heard around a hundred. Reading along simultaneously with the 1984 Gabler edition, some charts, and help from student annotations, I was finally able to complete and enjoy this most essential book. One less accomplishment left before I die!
No. It's an exceptionally tedious story.
Story? What story?
Jim did an amazing job of making this impenetrable book vaguely accessible. His aplomb at tackling the rambling sentences was wonderful!
It's one of the great books, right? A must read. Thank goodness for Jim's narration to help me conquer this behemoth. While 95% of the book I found exceptionally dull and boring, every now and then it really does soar. Perhaps only because you grasp at straws, but I think there were moments that are sublime...
I know that Ulysses is one of the most important works of the 20th century and I have always felt I should read it, but, at least for me, it was not a good listen. The narrator is probably excellent. However, his accent was difficult for me to understand so I missed much of the reading. I listen when I am in the car which is probably not the best place to be doing that. The story is somewhat of a jumble. Maybe it is poetry but it would be better to be reading the words on the page rather than trying to understand the plot by listening.