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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 (683 )
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4.1 (411 )
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Performance
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  •  
    01-22-09
    01-22-09 Listener Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Ulysses (Unabridged)"

    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.

    80 of 80 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Lenexa, KS, United States 06-01-09
    Robert Lenexa, KS, United States 06-01-09

    Now living in Estes Park, Colorado.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "let it flow!"

    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.

    47 of 47 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael J. Cox Vancouver, BC 09-30-09
    Michael J. Cox Vancouver, BC 09-30-09 Member Since 2011
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    "Nothing could be finer"

    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.

    42 of 42 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris Reich Northern, CA 07-27-09
    Chris Reich Northern, CA 07-27-09 Member Since 2005

    Business Physicist and Astronomer

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Should be classified as art...."

    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.

    Chris Reich

    51 of 52 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Victoria 05-01-09
    Victoria 05-01-09 Member Since 2008
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    "Extraordinary!!!!!!"

    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.

    24 of 24 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Freddy San Francisco, CA, USA 01-29-10
    Freddy San Francisco, CA, USA 01-29-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Perfect, excellent audiobook"

    I taught this novel at UC Berkeley years ago and decided to treat myself to someone else reading it. Jim Norton's reading is excellent. And it revealed meanings in the novel that I had not noticed before. Norton is a wonderful actor who brings this text to life. For readers/listeners who find this novel difficult to get into, I would suggest having a guide, such as Stuart Gilbert's "James Joyce's Ulysses: A Study," at hand. Reading or rereading this novel repays whatever effort you put into it.

    16 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tad Davis Philadelphia, PA USA 10-29-08
    Tad Davis Philadelphia, PA USA 10-29-08 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Musical in more than one sense"

    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.

    31 of 32 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jefferson Jonan-ku, Fukuoka-shi, Japan 11-27-11
    Jefferson Jonan-ku, Fukuoka-shi, Japan 11-27-11 Member Since 2010

    I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "This First-Time Reader Was Intoxicated"

    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.

    14 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ed Wilmington, DE, USA 04-30-09
    Ed Wilmington, DE, USA 04-30-09 Member Since 2006
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    "Worth the time and effort"

    Superbly done. Some passages benefited from following the text which is available on line. The combination makes "reading" Joyce an extraordinary experience.

    12 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ian Farnborough, United Kingdom 09-14-12
    Ian Farnborough, United Kingdom 09-14-12 Member Since 2003
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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.


    35 of 37 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 76 results PREVIOUS128NEXT
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  • 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.

    24 of 25 people found this review helpful
  • 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.

    9 of 9 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.

    12 of 14 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.

    1 of 1 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

    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
  • N Cowan
    Great Yarmouth, norfolk
    4/11/13
    Overall
    "Argh!"

    I'm studying Joyce as part of my degree. I find his short stories engaging, thought provoking and very interesting. I find Ulysses impermiable, impregnable and impossible to get into. Jim Norton does a great job, but the book itself is a pain in the backside. I would recommend only trying this if you have a long summer of sitting in the conservatory concentrating on everything within the book. Joyce is so dense in writing style that any little detail missed can leave you wondering what everyone's talking about. I found any activity - washing dishes, cycling, even walking could lead to minor distractions which would cause me to lose my train of thought.

    3 of 5 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.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Antti
    Jyväskylä, 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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mr
    United Kingdom
    12/2/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Wonderful book, brilliantly read."
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    It helped that I'd read this book previously and had done some study on how it has been interpreted. Once you have a grounding you really appreciate the full force of its brilliance.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Bloom: an outsider, cuckold and under-dog, but persistent and dogged, he wins through in the end.


    What does Jim Norton bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    Jim Norton's (and Marcella Reardon) reading adds immensely to an appreciation. Wonderful characterisation, pace, humour, accents and invective. It is difficult to imagine it will ever be bettered.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The last section as Molly describes why she married and has stuck with Bloom. But almost every chapter has some brilliant passage.


    Any additional comments?

    If you've never read it before do at least skim the basics of the story first so you appreciate the basic structure - and then plunge in and enjoy and imbibe the language and scatological humour. Every reading will bring out more subtleties and enjoyment. This really is one of those books worth coming back to. I will certainly be returning to this reading!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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