On one of its many levels, Ulysses is an attempt to recapture completely, so far as it is possible in fiction, the life of a particular time and place. The scene is Dublin—its streets, homes, shops, newspaper offices, pubs, hospitals, brothels, and schools. The time is a single day in 1904. A continuation of the story of Stephen Dedalus as told in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1914-1915, serial; 1916, book), the novel is also a series of remarkable Homeric parallels. The incidents, characters, and scenes of a Dublin day correspond to those of the Odyssean myth. Leopold Bloom is easily recognizable as Ulysses and Molly Bloom, his wife, as Penelope.
The book is written in a variety of styles and techniques; the most significant of which is the stream-of-consciousness method, by which James Joyce attempts to reproduce not only the sights, sounds, and smells of Dublin but also the memories, emotions, and desires of his people in the modern world. This technique—combined with multilayered wordplay, concatenated sentence structures designed to connote as well as denote, and the sheer density and richness of Joyce’s allusive language—makes the narrative nonlinear and epic in its proportions. While on the surface Ulysses relates one day in the life of its Dubliner characters, Joyce’s juxtaposition of his characters’ thoughts, descriptions of place, and evocation of history make the book as true an epic as its...
(The entire section is 1304 words.)
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