Essay on Ulysses by James Joyce

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Ulysses by James Joyce

Many novelists directly reflect their life stories and personal circumstances in their works, so closely that the works may seem autobiographical. Although there are autobiographical parallels between James Joyce's life and that of his characters in Ulysses, the novel's scattered autobiographical details are more in the line of delightful puzzles to be ferreted out, rather than direct insights into Joyce's life. What is really important in Ulysses is not the ties to Joyce's personal experience; it is the way he uses his distinctively Irish experience to comment on the human condition in general. We think of Joyce as an Irish writer, and it may be surprising to learn that he left his native land as a
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Joyce called his novel Ulysses as a conscious attempt to thematically evoke Homer's Odyssey, whose hero Ulysses (today generally called Odysseus) also made an epic journey of self-discovery. Yet it is not only the Greek classics to which Joyce has turned for inspiration, but the medieval Irish classics as well. One has only to read any cycle of medieval Celtic myth (such as the Irish Noinden Ulad, or the Welsh Mabinogen) to observe the same extraordinary structure at work there. The episodic formlessness of the Irish mythological epics heavily influenced the choice of form -- or, some would say, the lack thereof -- that was begun in Joyce's earlier works and brought to full fruition in Ulysses. The story line in either of these cycles flits from one anecdote to another in a manner that foreshadows Joyce's own stream-of-consciousness technique.
In addition, Joyce's words are arranged not in a rational manner but with a wild, intuitive Irishness, with as much emphasis on the magic of language as there is on its intellectual logic. We can see an example of this in Molly Bloom's ruminations in the final chapter, which consists of one single sentence extending for forty pages, with thought falling on thought like leaves piling up in the autumn. Consider just a fragment of that passage: "Yes because he never did a thing like that before as ask to get his