Ulysses and Us: The Art of Everyday Life in Joyce's Masterpiece

Ulysses and Us: The Art of Everyday Life in Joyce's Masterpiece

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by Declan Kiberd
     
 

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Why James Joyce's great modernist masterpiece is in fact a book that can teach ordinary people to live better lives.
Declan Kiberd, a professor of Anglo-Irish literature at the University College Dublin, offers an audacious new take on Joyce's classic novel. Ulysses, he argues, is a work written for and about the common person, offering a humane vision of a more

Overview

Why James Joyce's great modernist masterpiece is in fact a book that can teach ordinary people to live better lives.
Declan Kiberd, a professor of Anglo-Irish literature at the University College Dublin, offers an audacious new take on Joyce's classic novel. Ulysses, he argues, is a work written for and about the common person, offering a humane vision of a more tolerant and decent life in the modern world. In this passionate corrective to the widespread view of Ulysses as an esoteric tome for the scholarly few, Kiberd dispells the aura of academic mystique that has attached itself to the novel, opening our eyes to Ulysses as a celebration of the everyday and a model for living well in an unpredictable world.

Editorial Reviews

Sudip Bose - American Scholar
“Kiberd's book—lucid, learned, free of jargon and pretension—can make for a wonderful companion along the journey through Joyce's wondrous epic.”
John Banville - Irish Independent
“[Kiberd is] one of our liveliest and most iconoclastic intellectuals. . . . Whether or not Ulysses is an example of wisdom literature, Ulysses and Us certainly is.”
Publishers Weekly
Kiberd's take on Ulysses should be on every undergraduate syllabus that includes Joyce's epic work, as it is an ideal introduction for the uninitiated—accessible, richly argued, funny and, in a kind of devil's advocacy fashion, begging for rebuttal. The author of the important and controversial Inventing Ireland argues that it is time to “reconnect Ulysses to the everyday lives of people” and fetch it back from “the more snobbish modernists,” who have conspired to give the book a reputation of being “unreadable by the ordinary people for whom it was intended.” Kiberd places the book in its time—“a world which had known for the first time the possibilities of mass literacy, a time when ordinary laborers read Shakespeare, Ruskin and Macaulay.” Ulysses, says Kiberd is “an epic of the bourgeoisie,” most of the book set in Dublin's public places, where men and women interrelate—the library, the cemetery, shops, pubs, a hospital. As Kiberd works his argument through each chapter of Ulysses, readers will be fascinated by the father-son reconciliation that is at the heart of the novel, and will forever appreciate how the pyrotechnics that dominate the second half are there simply to deepen the explorations of a very simple theme: how to live, and how, like Odysseus, to get home. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Kiberd, a professor at University College Dublin and author of three previous books on Irish literature, here argues that Joyce's famous novel was written in celebration of and intended to be read by the common man; he contends that the novel has been wrongly usurped by the academic elite and is therefore now considered unreadable by all but the most devoted scholars. His thorough analysis and criticism of the novel and Homer's Odyssey, however, undermine his argument by drawing from Joyce's life and close readings of Gaelic poetry and other literary texts which, while fascinating, are unfamiliar in such detail to the common reader of today. He is indefatigable in drawing perceptive connections between Joyce's work and the author's literary forebears, though, and makes a convincing case that reading Ulysses can be a transformative experience for those brave enough to attempt it. VERDICT Highly recommended for academic libraries catering to literature scholars for its widely referenced, close reading of the text, this should be considered an invaluable companion volume to Joyce's novel. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 45/1/09.]—Megan Hodge, Randolph-Macon Coll. Lib., Ashland, VA
Booklist
“Starred Review. A daring work that might put a powerful book in the hands of its rightful readers.”
David Kelly - The New York Times
“For those who think a century is entitled to more than one 'game-changer,' there’s a fine new book of literary criticism called Ulysses and Us: The Art of Everyday Life in Joyce’s Masterpiece.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393339093
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
11/22/2010
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
416
Sales rank:
1,195,599
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

Declan Kiberd is a professor of Anglo-Irish literature at the University College Dublin and the author of Inventing Ireland: The Literature of the Modern Nation, which won the Irish Times Prize, and of Ulysses and Us: The Art of Everyday Life in Joyce's Masterpiece. He lives in Dublin.

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Ulysses and Us: The Art of Everyday Life in Joyce's Masterpiece 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Odysseus-Redux More than 1 year ago
Even though there is an entire industry built around Joyceology, Kiberd has transcended the sea of literary deconstruction around 'Ulysses.' This is a fine publication and enlightening as it reveals layers of the art and music and science in the masterpiece of James Joyce. It is on my bookshelf along with the other 25 or so post-publication analytics of this monumental novel - but this one is ranked near the top for a scholarly - yet reader-friendly tour of what many think is an impossible-to-make-sense-of book; Kiberd invites us back again to consider the value and the majesty of a timeless treasure.