Ulysses depicts a world that is as fully conceived and vibrant as anything in Homer or Shakespeare. It has been delighting and puzzling readers since it was first published on Joyce's 40th birthday in 1922. And here, Professor Heffernan maps the brilliance, passion, humanity, and humor of Joyce's modern Odyssey in these 24 lectures that finally make a beguiling literary masterpiece accessible for any reader willing to give it a chance. Although they discuss selected points from the enormous body of critical scholarship on Ulysses, these lectures presuppose no special knowledge of literature or of James Joyce. Whether or not you've read Ulysses, you'll find they make an excellent guide to the many-layered pleasures of this modern epic. Illuminating the dramatic and artistic integrity behind the novel's most notoriously challenging passages, they explain why this frank, path-breaking novel was praised as a landmark and damned as obscene - even banned - as soon as it first appeared. You'll come to see Ulysses as many books at once: an inspired modern reweaving of the fabric of Homer's mighty Odyssey; a supreme synthesis of realism and symbolism; a grandly comic and at times bawdy work - a seriocomic parable about art and experience; a symphonic, kaleidoscopic portrayal of the sights, sounds, and voices of Dublin and every city; and a dazzling work of masterfully handled prose styles and narrative devices.
Above all, you'll learn to read Ulysses as an unsentimental but deeply felt story that uses concrete facts of mundane life in a particular time and place to say something truly extraordinary and universal that speaks to all that is human in us.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.
©2001 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2001 The Great Courses
You can learn as much from a terrible book as a brilliantly written one.
The first thing anyone would ask i think, would be if they should try this series of lectures. This is what I would say:
If you really want to understand the way James Joyce writes, how he constructs his Ulysses and how this seemingly meaningless mass of words all fit together to frankly make something extremely beautiful, then you should get this. The energy the professor brings to the lectures is good and helps in keeping the listener on track and interested. He also does quite a good job in connecting the chapters together, which really helps as sometimes the sheer amount of content that can be found in the chapters can make you forget what happened before and not sure how to connect them together.
I have read some of the comments below and while it is true that the lectures focuses very much on the original Odyssey and how Joyce recreates them into something new and modern, I actually think thrashing the path through the Odyssey is quite important. It becomes a guide that makes reading Joyce's Ulysses much more comprehensible. Also, it is very helpful to take note of the chapter headings especially if you want to read or reread Ulysses. Understanding the relationship between the Odyssey and Joyce's Ulysses is very important given the work's title.
Having said this, I do agree that there is less focus on the other themes of the work discussed and to truly appreciate the work these areas must be explored more. However, this is why I titled this review as a good place to begin. I personally prefer these lectures to focus and fully discuss the relationship between Ulysses and the Odyssey so that the listener gets a full picture rather than try to cover everything. It is quite impossible to cover everything about the work in 24 lectures and even with such focus on the Odyssey and Joyce's Ulysses, it still barely scratches the surface of the topic.
If you are serious about understanding Ulysses or simply enjoy Joyce as I do and wish to delve deeper, this is what I would do.
Read the following in the order set out:
Portrait of the Artist
Read Ulysses completely once on your own
Listen to this series of lectures, relisten if possible
Read Ulysses again, this time applying what is learned from the lecture
And for other themes, read "Notes on Joyce's Ulysses" by don Gifford. And also see Stuart Gilbert and Harry blamires. Unless you have a lifetime you need these folks to help.
Read Ulysses again preferably while also reading the above mentioned authors on it.
Hey, Ulysses is meant to be hard to read. For those who are just curious about this often spoken work, this lecture will give you a good start and there is absolutely no need to go deeper unless you want to. It's suppose to be fun an challenging and I think this set of lectures would help anyone gain an appreciation of what Joys attempted and so well succeeded in doing.
Hope this was helpful.
The Book Snob for Paris Life Magazine.
IF you are going to read the book itself, you might as well know what you are getting. This course helped me navigate and gain far more insight than I could ever have had by just reading the book. They say you have to read Ulysses twice to get anything out of it. For the rest of us mere mortals, just read it once along with this course.
If it weren't for Audible I'd never get any reading done.
This is a superb series of lectures walking you through Joyce's very difficult novel. I read Ulysses in college and although I remembered a great deal about it, there were many aspects of it that passed me by at the time. Prof. Heffernan is skillful and entertaining as he takes you chapter-by-chapter through the thorny book. He's particularly good at explicating the Homeric parallel.
The Great Courses format is frankly absurd, with its 30-minute chunks, applause and the same damned bit of Brandenburg concerto at the head of every lecture.
I listened to this on Bloomsday after listening to the Norton reading. Book came alive.
This course exceeded my expectations, and made my navigation of Ulysses a joy.
I enjoy the lively narration, and the insights presented are invaluable.
Just as Ulysses "cannot be read, only re-read," so has this course been a resource to which I have frequently returned.
To pick up on things I may have missed first time through
To get a better understand the book you really need to read the Odyssey along side. I was not willing to do that much work, so this course was the perfect solution. The professor does all the heavy lifting and points out the parallels for you. Thanks!
I listened to Ulysses without any prior background information and frankly I felt it was hard to keep up with the style and substance of the book. After listening to these lectures, many of the beguiling sections made sense, and makes me want to revisit the novel again. That is saying something to how good a guide these lectures are in giving context to day lived over one hundred years ago in a foreign city.
I've been ready and studying Ulysses and James Joy e for decades and w energy I learn a lot by listening to these lectures. Began on Bloomsday and ended at two o'clock in the morning 17 June. Now I'm going to listen to it again!
A great compliment to the audible version of Ulysses! Been wanting to read this book for years! The review course helped me gain a huge understanding of Joyce's classic. Time for a second "reading"!
Professor Heffernan's analysis is cogent and concise. He obviously understands the work, but has very little that is positive to say about Molly Bloom; beyond saying that she is one of the most remarkable characters in literature, he seems to buy into the same whore or angel dichotomy that Stephen Dedalus espouses when it comes to all women.
There are also a dozen other themes of Ulysses, and for a lecture series that purports to analyze the whole work, he devotes nearly all of his time to the parallels with the Odyssey. That leaves out Joyce's commentary on Irish history; on colonialism, imperialism, and the Victorian age's scientific and technological breakthroughs; on Catholicism; on the life of the mind; on Irish literature....Joyce had so many things to say, and to talk about a handful only is to do a great disservice to anyone who listens to this course.
I would listen to anyone who did not sing-song his way through, anyone who didn't think he was a skilled impressionist who could do justice to any character (if you are not a trained Joycean reader, please leave the stereotypical accents at home), any accent, and anyone who didn't have the bizarre habit of leaving out one digit when saying a year (Professor Heffernan says 1904 "19-4" and it is crazy-making to me).
"As intriguing as it is erudite"
Accessible, thorough, thoughtful,
How intertwined the modern epic is with the ancient myth.
His insight into the mind of Bloom
A very good primer for those who have yet to read the book yet also a fascinating addendum to anyone who is familiar with the text. Professor Heffernan's enthusiasm and wit are infectious and his genuine admiration for Joyce's work shines through.
I would thoroughly recommend this course.
"A necessary thread"
Professor James Heffernan provides a necessary thread to navigate the labyrinth of Joyce's novel. A brilliant introduction and guide. My appreciation of Ulysses is greater as a consequence of listening to the course chapter by chapter. Yes!
"Making sense of Ulsysses"
I listened to this course alongside Ulysses itself. Without it, I don't think I would have finished Ulysses, and I certainly wouldn't have got half as much out of it.
The structure of the course worked well and the professor was very enthusiastic about the book, which helped me along.
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