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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.

(P)2004 NAXOS AudioBooks Ltd.

Critic Reviews

  • 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 Ratings


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  • Overall

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.

133 of 135 people found this review helpful

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  • Robert
  • Lenexa, KS, United States
  • 06-01-09

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.

94 of 96 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


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.

41 of 42 people found this review helpful

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  • Kim
  • Lewisham, Australia
  • 07-11-13

More often discussed than read. I can see why...

Any additional comments?

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.

51 of 53 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

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

72 of 76 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

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.

55 of 58 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

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.

51 of 54 people found this review helpful

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  • Ian
  • Farnborough, United Kingdom
  • 09-14-12

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.

65 of 70 people found this review helpful

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  • Dariusz
  • Vaudreuil-Dorion, Quebec, Canada
  • 11-14-08

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.

27 of 29 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

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.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Richard
  • 04-02-12


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.

25 of 26 people found this review helpful

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  • Janet
  • 10-29-08

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.

37 of 40 people found this review helpful

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  • Antti
  • 03-19-14

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.

16 of 17 people found this review helpful

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  • Peter/Patricia
  • 06-23-14

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.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • 06-06-14

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.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • common reader
  • 02-25-11

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.

23 of 26 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-14-15


This is a superb performance - not merely a reading - of an extraordinary book. For those of us who would never have managed to get through it as a written text, a real eye-opener and a very worthwhile investment of your time.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Lukas
  • 04-07-13

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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Andrew
  • 12-02-13

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!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • K. Taylor
  • 04-13-13

Great listen!

I thought the audiobook was great, I chose to read along as I listened because Joyce writes in such a way that you need to see as well as actually hear the words to get the full effect. I had been putting off reading it for ages because everyone said how difficult it is but in fact this audiobook is a wonderful accompaniment 10/10 would recommend.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • john ayliffe
  • 05-03-16

Ulysses on audible makes sense

Joyce must have meant his masterwork to be read aloud. Is pretty unreadable as text,

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Dan Bowen
  • 09-29-14

Unabridged too far

Any additional comments?

I had to give up on this after a bit over a quarter the way through (something I rarely do), it just requires too much concentration to keep up with and I don't think it suits the audiobook format. You need to be a bit of a scholar as well; large passages are in Latin, Italian etc. and there are many many references to history/literature which if you are not well versed in take away the enjoyment. The reader is excellent though and I would be tempted to have a go (though it won't be for a good few years) in traditional print.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Travis
  • 11-03-17


The only reason I listened to the entirety of this mindless drivel was to pay respect to the two that could be bothered reading it.

Be prepared to be on the volume switch though, one minute you can barely hear the reader and then, after turning it up, you jump through the roof due to him shouting.

Spend your hard earned on a more interesting book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful