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Briefly discuss on Ulysses

Ulysses is an ambitious project by james joyce, one of the most talented modern English novelists, to render epic into prose fiction. The possibility of the novel as a modern epic is, perhaps, well demonstrated here. The work, serialized in the journal Little Review from 1918, was first published in paris 1922. Of course, its publication was no plain-sailing affair,  and led to controversial opinions about the obscenity of the work. 

Though written on an epic scale, the novel deals with the events ot a single day (June  16, 1904)in the city of Dublin. The principal characters are only three - Stephen Daedalus, the hero of joyce’s earlier novel, The portrait of the Artist as a Young man, Leopold Bloom, a Jewish advertisement canvasser and his wife Marion Bloom through different places in Dublin and their eventual meeting in a brothel wherefrom Bloom rescues Stephen and takes him to his home. 

Ulysses is truly a masterpiece of epic proportions. It is divided into Three Books, with eighteen episodes altogether. There is a close likeness of the novel with Homer’s celebrated epic Odyssey in the structural organisation. Various chapters in the novel correspond to different Homeric episodes. The thematic framework is also found linked to the Odyssey. Ulysses’s years of wandering, his soon Telemachus’s frantic search for him, and their return to penelope are echoed in the story of Bloom, Stephen and Molly. Bloom is here the Ulysses of the title, Stephen represents Telemachus, while Molly is penelope. Of course, there are no startling situations and exciting events of the epic in the novel. The story is set in a drab modern metropolis which is the prop of the whole course of events during a particular day. In the course of the day, however, a public bath a funeral, a newspaper office, public houses, the National Library, a maternity hospital and a brothel are visited. The compass of the story though treating commonplace modern matters, is quite vast and comprehensive from the modern social viewpoint. The novel, indeed,seems to have the magnitude of ancient epic in a modern setting 

Of course, Joyce’s materials in Ulysses differ substantially from Homer’s in the Odyssey. These materials are social, rather than mythological and historical. Joyce’s work is in fact, a kind of parody of Homer. Like his great predecessor in the fictional world, Fielding, he writes a comic epic and requires an epic structure for the purpose. What he does more is to express the universal flow of life in particular incidents and characters. His Bloom, Dedalus and Molly are the modern version of archetypal figures, and they represent the eternal urge in human nature. 

Ulysses bears out the triumph of Joyce’s fictional artistry which is both original and effective. His style is highly allusive and employs a variety of technique, marked with seriousness and parody, realism and fantasy. Joyce’s command over the stream-of-consciousness technique is also clearly evident here. His characters are enlivened with the constant flow of consciousness in their inner worlds. Stray thoughts and recollections flicker in their minds, replete with the consciousness of their past as well as present. Joyce’s method of stream of consciousness is most thorough in his treatment of Marion Bloom. 

Ulysses is a great novel of a great age of fiction and reveals what a great master Joyce is.  


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