Writings #6: Ulysses

2 minute read


Part 6 in a collection of posts where I’ll give some of my thoughts and analysis on essays, short stories, novels, movies, etc. It is not really anything academic, but purely for me to practice my writing.


A novel by James Joyce

Oh boy, has this one taken me a long time to read and digest (and understand really). I will chunk it up into Joyce’s episodes and give some of my final thoughts at the end along with any other interesting things I picked up while reading. Perhaps at the end of this I can truly consider myself a Joycean.

Update: I’ll come back to this at some point. I think I need to pick up the book again (yikes…).

Part I: Telemachia

Episode 1 – Telemachus

Episode 1 of Ulysses sees the return of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man’s lead role, Stephen Dedalus, the unrecognized and dejected artist. Still mourning the passing of his mother Stephen has found residence with Buck Mulligan, his seeming juxtaposition, who mocks him in an effort to establish intellectual authority.

Joyce explicitly hints at a parallel between his first episode and the tales of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Contrasting the Martello tower, Stephen and Buck’s place of residence, to Elsinore establishes Stephen as a parallel to Hamlet. For further comparison Stephen, much like Hamlet to his father, is haunted by the death of his mother. By stringing together Hamlet and Stephen, it is further concluded that Buck, who is in constant feud with Stephen, takes the persona of Claudius.

Without delay Joyce establishes his comical wit and literary genius by employing allusions to Shakespearean writing and littering humour about his narration. While difficult to digest, it is clear to see the author is embarking the reader upon a masterpiece. Many story threads are begun with numerous parallels to other famous works all while establishing a believable early century Irish setting.

Episode 2 – Nestor

Episode 3 – Proteus

Part II: Odyssey

Episode 4 – Calypso

Episode 5 – Lotus Eaters

Episode 6 – Hades

Episode 7 – Aeolus

Episode 8 – Lestrygonians

Episode 9 – Scylla and Charybdis

Episode 10 – Wandering Rocks

Episode 11 – Sirens

Episode 12 – Cyclops

Episode 13 – Nausicaa

Episode 14 – Oxen of the Sun

Episode 15 – Circe

Part III: Nostos

Episode 16 – Eumaeus

Episode 17 – Ithaca

Episode 18 – Penelope


– Daniel Nichols