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Ulysses | [James Joyce]

Ulysses

Ulysses is regarded by many as the single most important novel of the 20th century. It tells the story of one day in Dublin, June 16th 1904, largely through the eyes of Stephen Dedalus (Joyce's alter ego from Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man) and Leopold Bloom, an advertising salesman. Both begin a normal day, and both set off on a journey around the streets of Dublin, which eventually brings them into contact with one another.
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Publisher's Summary

Ulysses is regarded by many as the single most important novel of the 20th century. It tells the story of one day in Dublin, June 16th 1904, largely through the eyes of Stephen Dedalus (Joyce's alter ego from Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man) and Leopold Bloom, an advertising salesman. Both begin a normal day, and both set off on a journey around the streets of Dublin, which eventually brings them into contact with one another.

While Bloom's passionate wife, Molly, conducts yet another illicit liasion (with her concert manager), Bloom finds himself getting into arguments with drunken nationalists and wild carousing with excitable medical students, before rescuing Stephen Dedalus from a brawl and returning with him to his own basement kitchen.

In the hands of Jim Norton and Marcella Riordan, experienced and stimulating Joycean readers, and carefully directed by Roger Marsh, Ulysses becomes accessible as never before. It is entertaining, immediate, funny, and rich in classical, philosophical, and musical allusion.

Download the accompanying reference guide.

(P)2004 NAXOS AudioBooks Ltd.

What the Critics Say

  • Audie Award Finalist, Classics, 2005

"As ambitious and rewarding an audio production as any that exists, an audio experience that truly deserves to be cherished....Readers of Ulysses have long been encouraged to read out loud the more difficult sections for added comprehension and enjoyment of the language. Now, thanks to Naxos, the entire book is available in a performance to savor. It is safe to say that anyone wanting to experience the preeminent work of modern fiction has in this package the perfect audio companion." (AudioFile)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.7 (889 )
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4.1 (592 )
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Performance
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  •  
    B. Leddy NY 10-26-11
    B. Leddy NY 10-26-11 Member Since 2015

    bleddy

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Jim Norton does it"

    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.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ian Farnborough, United Kingdom 09-14-12
    Ian Farnborough, United Kingdom 09-14-12 Member Since 2014
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    "I should hate this - but I don't."

    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.


    42 of 47 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dariusz Vaudreuil-Dorion, Quebec, Canada 11-14-08
    Dariusz Vaudreuil-Dorion, Quebec, Canada 11-14-08
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    "Fantastic !"

    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.

    20 of 22 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Utah 02-23-12
    Amazon Customer Utah 02-23-12 Member Since 2015

    tired teacher

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    "Best book of the 20th century?"

    Ok . . . . Now I can say I read "Ulysses." Do I understand it? Ohhhhh myyyyy NOOOOOO. This is a book that a college course could be based on for a whole year. In fact, there must be courses on this book somewhere in the world, maybe in many places. It is the most convoluted, unintelligible book I have ever read. Why would anyone want to read it? And yet, there is something fascinating about it that kept me going, although by the end I was ready to be done with it.

    I read the Kindle edition of this book, along with listening to the audio recording. I could never have done one without the other. Oh, and I also read the Sparknotes, episode by episode, before during and after each one. Sometimes, in fact, when reading the synopsis and analysis of each episode, I would say to myself, "Oh is THAT what was happening?"

    This novel is on every "must read" list I've ever read, usually at the #1 position. It is often touted as the greatest novel of the 20th century, so naturally I thought I should read it. But I had heard that it is vulgar, so that made me hesitate (for about 30 years). Finally I figured I could take it. I have read some trashy stuff, and I don't really enjoy it at all. This book, in spite of the fact that it was classified as pornography and not allowed to be sold in the U.S. for a long long time, does not even rank up there with some of the trash that is published today and passed off as great literature. You know, the ones where the "f" word occurs something like 50 times per page. (Ugh I hate those!!!! This book contained almost no swear words.) Or the explicit sexual scenes (see Diana Gabaldon, whose writing I love, and while I would not categorize her writing as vulgar, I could do with a little less explicit intimacy). It does have some fairly clear allusions to sexual matters, but I could not say it is vulgar. The only part I could say might be vulgar is the last episode where Molly is in bed and can't sleep, and we get these gi-normous run-on sentences which are her thoughts just running and running around in her head, her stream of consciousness, and she thinks about every lover she has ever had, and other sexual things. And maybe one or two other places that are kinda nasty.

    The story line. What story line? What plot? It is a ramble with no particular direction. And yet, Joyce ties everything up at the end and you "get it." It was written as a parallel story to "The Odyssey", and thanks to Sparknotes, I was able to follow that idea. Luckily, I had just read "The Odyssey" a few weeks ago, so I knew what the notes were talking about. I would recommend anyone wishing to read this book to read "The Odyssey" first. Or listen to it read by Derek Jacobi.

    The writing style. You name it, he uses it. Every episode, of which there are 18, uses a different style of writing. One episode uses maybe 10 different styles alone. It is hard work to figure it all out, especially the parts that use incomplete sentences. So very many of these sentences ended with the word "the". Figure that one out. Joyce also likes to make lists. Sometimes they are funny, sometimes just odd. Bloom's last list went like this: "Sinbad the Sailor and Tinbad the Tailor and Jinbad the Jailer and Whinbad the Whaler and Ninbad the Nailer and Finbad the Failer and Binbad the Bailer and Pinbad the Pailer and Minbad the Mailer and Hinbad the Hailer and Rinbad the Railer and Dinbad the Kailer and Vinbad the Quailer and Linbad the Yailer and Xinbad the Phthailer." I think he was very tired. It had been a long day.

    The characters. I have to admit I never got to the point that I cared a great deal about any of the characters. They just weren't loveable. In many ways they weren't even interesting. I thought the most interesting person was Bloom, of course, and although I did finally have some tender feelings for Steven, I just couldn't care that much about him. Molly, eh, not so much either. She was one-dimensional to me. All the women characters were, and the only reason they were mentioned was in terms of some sort of sexual activity. Well, other than Steven's mother, who was already dead at the beginning of the story.

    Well enough of that. I just have to say this. The narrator, Jim Norris, deserves 10 stars at least. He is 110% complete and total awesomeness. He is a big reason I was able to persevere with this difficult-to-read book. Now, anyone who would consent to reading this book aloud and who would at least try to make sense of it deserves a medal of honor, but Jim was simply amazing. Marcella Riordan, who read "Molly" was also good, well above average. But it was Jim to whom the huge part of the really tough narration fell, and he handled it like a true champion. I'll be looking for other books read by Jim Norris.

    Last word: Was it worth reading? I think I can say at this point that it was worth reading. It is going to take a lot longer to fit it all together and make sense of it than just the few days since I finished it. I will be thinking about it for a long time. A year from now I will probably be able to do a great review of the book.

    I do understand what all the hype is about, but there is something in me that keeps saying that the greatest book of the 20th century or any century should be a little more accessible to its readers. It is just too hard to make sense of, at least it was for me, and I am a college graduate, in fact I hold a masters' degree. So . . . read it if you want, but I am not sure it will change your life. That is the biggest reason I am giving it three stars.

    18 of 20 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rebecca 01-08-11
    Rebecca 01-08-11 Member Since 2009

    Love to read, and Audible has made the two-hour daily commute enjoyable!

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    "Brings Joyce to life"

    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.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janice Perth, Australia 02-11-11
    Janice Perth, Australia 02-11-11 Member Since 2009
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    "Exhilarating"

    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.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard DEKALB, IL, USA 04-28-10
    Richard DEKALB, IL, USA 04-28-10
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    "Ulysses - A Great Read, A Great Reading!"

    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!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eric Azle, TX, United States 12-01-10
    Eric Azle, TX, United States 12-01-10
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    "Don't be fooled by bad reviews..."

    This should not be your first read of Ulysses. You need to see what it looks like on paper, first. There is no way anyone would be able to appreciate either the book or the audio recording of it by doing otherwise. The reading is not too fast. It is beautifully authentic. Do you want someone drolling on, waiting for you to chew the last syllable, or would you like a wonderfully fluid reading? Jim Norton is mind-blowing at times. He is genius. There are parts I'll listen to over and over and over. I'm serious. I will replay them and replay them. It's beautiful. I can never begin to comprehend how this was put together. Norton's reading has helped me to understand much of what I missed while reading it myself.

    Of course it doesn't cater to American readers. The book is a superbly elaborate account of early 20th century Dublin, written by a genius of a man. This reading brings out the native subtleties. This reading makes the greatest literary work of all time live!

    20 of 24 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Novie Kailua Kona, HI, United States 09-03-14
    Novie Kailua Kona, HI, United States 09-03-14 Member Since 2012

    Retired nightclub performer/computer technician, I now teach hula and ukulele to seniors, and record Hawaiian music for my halau!

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    "Call me an idiot, but I just DON'T get it."

    I bought this book largely based on the customer reviews that so ardently raved on and on about it. I had to have it. Now I realize that there must be a conspiracy of lunatics out there trying to make art out of garbage. I just don't get it.
    In desperation, I finally went to Wikipedia to find out what the hell this book is about (after struggling through seven chapters). I could not believe what I heard. Basically it is the "stream of consciousness" running through a man's mind in the space of one day. Just rambling on and on, on and on. Wiki gives a great synopsis of the chapters, and I was totally surprised to find that there was a thread of thought to any of what I had experienced.
    People have called it it best book of the 20th century? If I have to have a translation to understand the English language, it's definitely not for me. According to Wiki, Joyce said he would gain immortality just because literary professors would forever be arguing about what he meant in the book.
    NOT entertaining! There is a Gutenberg Project of this book online and I skimmed over it to see if I could better understand it. It's a little better to READ it than to listen to it, but still--I don't find myself wanting to STUDY a book of 330,300 or so words to find out what the author is trying to say or the parallels to Homer's work. Leave this one to the pedantics. I had to put it down.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Clayton Bosler Redondo Beach CA USA 08-08-12
    Clayton Bosler Redondo Beach CA USA 08-08-12 Listener Since 2009

    Clay

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "How did I get through it?"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    No. It's an exceptionally tedious story.


    What was most disappointing about James Joyce???s story?

    Story? What story?


    What about Jim Norton???s performance did you like?

    Jim did an amazing job of making this impenetrable book vaguely accessible. His aplomb at tackling the rambling sentences was wonderful!


    Any additional comments?

    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...

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 11-20 of 93 results PREVIOUS12310NEXT
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  • Richard
    Fairlight, United Kingdom
    4/2/12
    Overall
    "Amazing"

    I've listened to 30+ books from Audible now and a few of them have needed a bit of persistence. I was keen to listen to Ulysses as I reasoned that I may be unlikely to finish the book in print if I attempted it.

    It seems to me that the audiobook format is excellent for this incredible book. I can see why the book is rated so highly. The narrator is excellent and I found his characterisations worked very well. The pace was just right - quite hard to keep up but I don't think this is the book to read aloud slowly.

    Did I understand everything? No. I had to review an online source at the end of each episode to keep up. But it is well worth it and I feel like I have experienced a very special piece of literature.

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  • Janet
    LONDONUnited Kingdom
    10/29/08
    Overall
    "Ulysses brought to life"

    This is audio books at their absolute best. I'm only a quarter of the way through but this is completely captivating. The range of voices Jim Riordan can produce is amazing: it brings the characters to life and helps the listener keep track of what is obviously a difficult 'plot'. He also brings a range of tone to the characters, distinguishing speech and thoughts very helpfully. Perhaps not the best bed-time listening - a fatal combination of mellifluous accents and aimless ramblings that has me dozing off in minutes - but there the fault is entirely my own.

    28 of 31 people found this review helpful
  • Antti
    Finland
    3/19/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Monumental Achievement"

    "Grant me, Lord, the courage and the joy / I need to scale the summit of this day”, wrote Jorge Luis Borges of "Ulysses" in one of his sonnets. Both are needed, courage and joy, since the most challenging works of literature should be enjoyable in their difficulty. When it comes to Joyce’s great work, a colossus among the colossals, it’s quite impossible to write about the reading experience succintly, to the point, and well. I’m trying, though.

    I like reading "Ulysses", but equally I love listening to it. There is something about Joyce’s language and his way of expressing things that lends beautifully to performance. His words float, soar and swerve, and I think we are incredibly lucky to have an audiobook of the work that is without equal. Narrated by Jim Norton and Marcella Riordan, it is an unabridged recording (27 hours and 21 minutes) that has not only been expertly read, it’s actually recorded and mixed wonderfully, and it’s amongst the best audiobooks I’ve ever encountered. This is a monumental achievement in audiobook recording that cuts no corners, takes all the time it needs in the right places, and uses technology and vision to create an unforgettable listening experience.

    One of the best audiobooks I’ve ever listened to.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • MARTIN
    HASLEMERE, United Kingdom
    2/25/11
    Overall
    "A book for grown-up people"

    Jim Norton's performance is the greatest triumph of reading-aloud that I ever expect to hear.

    Looking at some of the earlier negative reviews, I feel like inviting these people to grow up a little. It is the rhetoric of the playground to dismiss something as rubbish merely because you yourself do not appreciate it.

    14 of 16 people found this review helpful
  • Patricia
    Harold's Cross, Ireland
    6/23/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Well worth the effort!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Ulysses to be better than the print version?

    The audio version makes this complex, many layered novel accessible and enjoyable.


    What other book might you compare Ulysses to, and why?

    This is incomparable to any book I have read to date.


    What about Jim Norton’s performance did you like?

    The ability ot the narator to create different voices, accents and sounds was brilliant.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    This book needs concentrated time to absorb, but I was always delighted to return to it and did so again and again and got more out of each reading.


    Any additional comments?

    I was surprised with how much enjoyed this book. Even after 3 readings, I feel there is still a rich vein to be excavated so I know I will return for more.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • SEAN HOLDEN
    England
    6/6/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Perfect rendering of a towering masterpiece"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    This reading opened this wonderful, wonderful book to me. I, Seán Holden, have started what's always been called a hard read several times. Jim Norton has led me effortlessly through Bloom's journey. The depth of Joyce's understanding of language, mind and body is as profound as Shakespeare's and as beautiful. And he is funny and and he is learned. Having done the 27 hours I'm going to start all over again. Jim Norton's own understanding of the narrative and the distinctive presentation of the vast swirl of characters is perfection. It sounds just as I imagine it swooshing out of Joyce's head. The last chapter, read by Marcella Riordan, is a joy of pure eroticism with her enticingly beautiful voice taking us intimately inside Molly in every way. This is the best audio book performance I have ever heard. It gives us with ease the book we should all have.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Michael Champion
    Nottinghamsshire UK
    9/23/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "I have done it; with a little help"
    What did you like most about Ulysses?

    I listened and read on Kindle at the same time. If It was under my own steam I would never have made it. The combination worked well for me and is highly recommended.
    This is an important book and to gain access to it to observe the way Joyce turns words over in his hands and plays with the form of language is awesome.
    I can see me repeating this over the years.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Ulysses?

    There were some dull and inaccessible episodes in the middle (memorable for the wrong reasons) but overall the pictures that Joyce paints of life in Dublin are what stand out. The various interactions as the day goes on are deep, comedic and give a good insight to the life of the time.


    What about Jim Norton’s performance did you like?

    What a fantastic performance. If you need a sense of his artistry read a section out aloud to someone and then play Norton's performance of the same passage. What skill!
    The numerous accents and various pace of reading are just brilliant.
    I also loved Marcella Riordan's contribution at the end of the book; very philosophical, sad and sensual at the same time.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No Far too long for one sitting


    Any additional comments?

    This has to be the best way to access this classic. Highly recommended

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Lukas
    Vintrosa, Sweden
    4/7/13
    Overall
    "Don't think you can do anything while listening"

    The story demands your full attention as you borrow the characters thoughts and feelings. I did try to listen to it while walking, but found that there is no room to be distracted. Having said that it is a rich experience that matches visual media.



    Make sure you have time to give listening your full attention, and you will be rewarded.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • doug
    halstead, United Kingdom
    9/11/12
    Overall
    "Audio magic"

    This is beautifully read. Stunning. When I bought this I was reading 'Dubliners' and now find myself reading that with the narrators voice. It is a work of genius, bringing Joyce's multilayered masterpiece to life.

    Only buy if you have staying power, though the lyrical, poetic prose is a thing of beauty in it self.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • alice
    LONDON, United Kingdom
    9/26/11
    Overall
    "Astonishing"

    The beauty and lyricism, scope and style is undeniable, Norton's voice is somewhat irritating, too insistent, would prefer a more melodic voice. The text sags in places, Joyce's achievement is marred by the text being 'overstuffed' with detail, this great work needed pruning imho

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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