The Argument of Ulysses
Literary Criticism / European / English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh
485 pp. 6x9
$39.95 paper 978-0-8142-5355-7
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The enigma of James Joyce’s “Ulysses” remains, and the difficulty is far more fundamental than the considerable amount of material written about the novel would suggest. From its publication, books and articles have been written discussing its stylistic singularities, its patterns of allusion, and its various complexes of symbolic meaning. there exists, however, no general agreement about that which would ordinarily be regarded as an antecedent, even a primary, consideration: what happens in the book. It clearly has a protagonist, yet there has been no generally accepted account of what he experiences, or what he does. No one has demonstrated conclusively how Mr. Bloom’s odyssey ends—or even whether it ends at all.
The present study is not a “reading” of “Ulysses” accompanied by an interpretation, but a demonstration of the ways in which the novel works, chapter by chapter, to unfold the story of what its chief characters experience, do, and become.
Stanley Sultan is associate professor of English at Clark University, Worcester, Massachussets.