Ulysses By Slote, Sam
A novel by James Joyce, written between 1914 and 1922, serialized from 1918–1920, and published in book form (to much controversy) in 1922. With T. S. Eliot’s The Waste-Land and Virginia Woolf’s Jacob’s Room, both also published in 1922, Ulysses helps establish 1922 as the peak year of Anglo-American Modernism. It is among the most stylistically diverse and boldly experimental English prose works of the twentieth century.
Ulysses takes place over the course of one single day, June 16, 1904 (now known as Bloomsday, after its central character Leopold Bloom). It consists of 18 chapters (or episodes as Joyce called them), each one covering no more than one hour. Each episode has a specific style, although the styles of most of the earlier episodes are largely similar. Joyce wrote Ulysses between 1914 and 1922, although it began life in 1906 as a quickly abandoned short story for Dubliners. Joyce’s compositional practice was largely one of revision and addition: Joyce signed off the final revisions for Ulysses on January 30, 1922, days before its publication.
Episodes from Ulysses were serialized in The Little Review from March 1918 to December 1920. Serialization was halted after the thirteenth episode (“Nausicaa”) occasioned a legal action over obscenity brought on by the New York Society for the Prevention of Vice (four episodes were serialized by The Egoist, but fears of prosecution prevented a fuller serialization). Joyce’s refusal to make any concessions towards publishing Ulysses in a climate where it was liable to be judged obscene led to its being published by Sylvia Beach, the proprietor of the Shakespeare and Company bookshop in Paris.