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Publisher's Summary

Narrator Tadhg Hynes: "I first decided to record Ulysses in October 2015. Little did I know then what an unforgettable 18 months lay ahead. Having already recorded Dubliners and Portrait (and being terrified of Ulysses), I decided to give myself a year just to read it. However, after about four episodes I started recording it and became hooked.

"Being a Dubliner and having the privilege of walking the pages of this book daily, it became a world that absorbed me totally. Almost everywhere I went in Dublin, Joyce was there. I kept coming across phrases from the book in real life. I was born in Holles St. Hospital some 60 years after the Oxen of the Sun episode was set there. While the city has moved with the times, it's still unavoidable to get the sense of Joyce's Dublin even now.

"Some parts of the book are more difficult than others, but I found that every word had its place, and with a bit of effort and research it came to life. Don't be put off by its reputation. You don't need a university degree (though some like to think that you do!). It's a book for everyone, and as you become familiar with the way Joyce writes, this becomes obvious.

"I've tried to bring out the Dublin wit and the unique language of its people, and I hope that this adds to the enjoyment of this great book.

"I would like to add a special note of thanks and admiration to the wonderful reading of Molly Bloom's soliloquy, given by Kayleigh Payne. Famed for its lack of punctuation and rambling nature, this iconic piece of writing is beautifully interpreted and sensitively portrayed. Kayleigh's work has brought a new dimension to the recording, and I am eternally grateful."

Public Domain (P)2017 Victorian Classic Audiobooks

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  • RealityBuff
  • Carrboro, NC, USA
  • 2018-06-09

A difficult classic read the way it was meant to sound

I put off reading this book for about 30 years because I am a slow reader. Having an audio version made all the difference. I picked this version because the main reader is from Dublin, unlike others who sounded English. The readers are wonderful and made this book much easier to get through.

I strongly recommend reading some kind of summary (spark notes, etc.) before each ‘episode’ to clarify what is going on, since it is easy to get lost if your attention wanders for even a few seconds.

It is hard to describe the book itself, because it isn’t like anything else. It’s about the evolution of language and literature as much as anything. It culminates with an eight sentence stream of consciousness episode that considers our hero from a completely different perspective.

Wow!

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2018-12-30

Excellence Performance of a Very Difficult Read

I gave it my best effort, but could not maintain concentration on the stream of consciousness that is Ulysses. I admire Joyce's attention to gritty detail in both character and setting, but I think this is the one book that is made more tedious by the audio format. Kudos to Tadhg Hynes and his beautiful lilting voice.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Mr. Eyuz
  • 2019-03-31

A Mixed Bag on Every Level

If you know absolutely nothing about Ulysses, what follows might contain some spoilers, though I would imagine that even the novel and the author’s staunchest defenders would scoff at the notion of spoiling a novel so full of puzzles and so slight on narrative drive.

Ulysses is a good litmus test for determining a reader’s devotion to what might be called “the modernist project.” The novel is a crucial document in the revolution that swept through the arts in the early 20th Century. Among the many features of modernism were a deep interest in psychology and a laying bare of the creative process. Though the term “deconstruction” is associated with the intellectual movement that followed modernism, it was in fact the modernist writers who made a point of deconstructing narrative forms and the authorial voice.

All of these preoccupations are very much in evidence in Ulysses. Perhaps it goes without saying that Joyce was committed to capturing the inner thoughts of his characters on the page, for anyone with a passing acquaintance with his work will be familiar with his penchant for writing torrents of stream-of-consciousness reflections. In formal terms, the book is relentlessly experimental. There are chapters that mimic the layout of newspaper articles, or that take the form of a play or a questionnaire.

Ulysses documents a little more than one day in the life of a collection of characters in Dublin. Whatever one may think of the novel, the specificity with which Joyce recreates geographic and historic details surrounding one place and time is breathtaking—a feat all the more astounding when one considers that the author was mostly writing from self-imposed exile on the European continent. The factual and descriptive granularity of the text is but one aspect of the encyclopedic nature of the novel. One analysis of Ulysses has determined that Joyce used 30,200 distinct words in writing the book. As a point of comparison, Donald Trump used a vocabulary of 526 words in delivering his 2017 inaugural address. If Trump’s command of English represents a linguistic nadir, then Joyce’s writing in Ulysses can be seen as a soaring attempt to sum up everything that language can do.

Of course, soaring to extreme heights has its risks. One of the main characters in Ulysses carries the surname Dedalus, a reference to the ancient inventor whose attempts at human flight caused him to lose his son, Icarus. There is more than a bit of Dedalus’ fatal hubris on display in Joyce’s unbridled literary ambition. Entire chapters roll by filled with wordplay so dense that the result teeters on the edge between language and gibberish. Joyce always seems far more interested in the “what if” than the “why.”

By now it should be apparent that I view Joyce’s work in Ulysses with a mixture of awe and annoyance. Among the novel’s quarter of a million words, there are passages of rapturous beauty and moments of hilarity. At the same time, the artistic achievement of the book is blunted by its willful obfuscation. I acknowledge that we can’t imagine many of the greatest literary achievements of the 20th Century without the experiments in Ulysses. Writers as diverse as Nabokov and Updike have acknowledged their debt to Joyce. Nevertheless, a distinction must be made between artistic research and artistic results. At times, reading Ulysses is akin to being allowed to witness a scientific discovery—say, vulcanized rubber—without then being able to benefit from the use of the new product.

Joyce was obsessed with music, and it’s often helpful to think of the words in Ulysses as speaking to us in much the way musical notes do. Often the proses possesses an abstract logic similar to a melody or a passage of counterpoint. For this reason, listening to the book being read aloud makes sense. At the same time, it must be noted that the text has a great many graphical features that can’t really be rendered in aural terms. Tadhg Hynes, the chief narrator of this audio version of the novel, does a yeoman’s job of capturing the books lyrical qualities and tackling its formal challenges. In many cases, he manages to turn passages that appear as dense puzzles on the page into lively, dramatic exchanges. Where Hynes falls down is in his reading of text in foreign languages. This is not a trivial shortcoming, since there are thousands of words in this book that are in tongues other than English. I read French reasonably well, and I could not make any sense of Hynes’ reading of the several portions of the text that resort to that language.

Hynes wisely delegates the reading of the final chapter of the book to a female reader, Kayleigh Payne. This is the famous soliloquy of Molly Bloom, who up to this point has remained a shadowy figure in the book. Arriving at this monolog after slogging through the rest of the novel is a revelation. Without question, it is the most coherent section of the text. Molly leaps off the page as a lusty, vivacious and genuine character. Payne does a magnificent job of capturing Molly’s vivid, bawdy voice. Indeed, both Joyce’s writing of this chapter and Payne’s reading of it are so fine as to make me glad I read the book.

I don’t think it’s hyperbolic to say that Ulysses would never have reached the audience it has without the crowning achievement of Molly’s predawn musings. This chapter also largely accounts for the accusations of obscenity brought against the book. The sexual and scatological references in the earlier chapters mostly take the form of ankle-gazing and prurient schoolboy puns. Molly’s soliloquy, on the other hand, delivers a fierce carnality that will forever terrorize our guardians of morality. Much can be debated about Ulysses, but upon this we can surely agree: Molly Bloom is hot as hell.

0 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • John Bolger
  • 2019-01-08

overrated

poetry,lists, inconsistent writing patterns. plagiarism. I believe one chapter send remarkably like Hans Christian Anderson's A Christmas Carol I saw a lot of parts of this book what is lewd

0 of 5 people found this review helpful