Beginning Ulysses, Or What on Earth am I Reading?

by Charlotte Reads Classics

Today I started reading Ulysses. I sat in a bookshop filled with glee and read the first twenty pages. If I’m this proud from twenty pages, how satisfying will this book be when I read hundreds of pages? When I finish? Normally I don’t like to know too much about the plot or themes of a book before I’ve read it. However, due to the extreme challenge that this book is rumoured to be, I don’t want to get all the way through and not pick up on the most basic of details – I know I won’t understand it all, so I at least want to grasp the bones of it.

Here is what I have found out so far, correct me if I’m wrong, because I’m compiling this initial outline before reading from a fair few different websites, but most credit must go to this.

Ulysses is split into three parts and eighteen episodes, each reflecting a character or incident of The Odyssey. There are no episode or chapter titles in the book itself, but they do appear in Joyce’s outline. The novel is set on June 16th 1904 between 8am and 3am.

Part I: The Telemachiad

  • Episode I – Telemachus, 8am
  • Episode II – Nestor, 10am
  • Episode III – Proteus, 11am

Part II: The Odyssey

  • Episode IV – Calypso, 8am
  • Episode V – Lotus-Eaters, 10am
  • Episode VI – Hades, 11am
  • Episode VII – Aeolus, 12pm
  • Episode VIII – Lestrygonians, 1pm
  • Episode IX – Scylla and Charybdis, 2pm
  • Episode X – Wandering Rocks, 3pm
  • Episode XI – Sirens, 4pm
  • Episode XII – Cyclops, 5pm
  • Episode XIII – Nausicaa, 8pm
  • Episode XIV – Oxen of the Sun, 10pm
  • Episode XV – Circe, 12am

Part III: The Nostos

  • Episode XVI –  Eumaeus, 1am
  • Episode XVII – Ithaca, 2am
  • Episode XVIII – Penelope, 3am / unspecified

Apologies if you have no interest in James Joyce, Bloomsday or Ulysses because my next few posts will be about all three! Plus I’ll need a guide to The Odyssey. Now I’m off to read a little bit more….

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