Ulysses was the second novel of James Joyce after the semi-autobiographical Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916).
It was published in 1922 and immediately was at the center of
controversy for being too open in the depiction of details. Joyce (born
in 1882) had written many short stories before the publication of this
epic work which catapulted him to fame. The protagonist of Joyce's
earlier novel Portrait.. Stephen Dedalus makes a comeback in Ulysses.
Ulysses is set in Dublin on the day of June 16, 1904 and the
protagonist, Leopold Bloom (Joyce's Ulysses character), is a middle-aged Jew whose job as an
advertisement canvasser forces him to travel throughout the city on a
daily basis. The younger hero of the novel is Stephen Dedalus, the
autobiographical character from Joyce's first novel, A Portrait of the
Artist as a Young Man. While Joyce develops the character of the young
student, most of the novel is focused on Bloom.
Ulysses is widely regarded as the most "revolutionary"
literary efforts of the twentieth century not only for Joyce's "stream
of consciousness" technique but also for its frankness about various human issues. In his efforts to create a modern hero,
Joyce returned to classical myth only to deconstruct a Greek warrior
into a parody of the "Wandering Jew." Joyce's hero, Leopold Bloom, must
suffer the emotional traumas of betrayal and loss, while combating the
anti-Semitism of 1904 Dublin. In contrast to Greek stoicism and patience,
Joyce set a flawed and idiosyncratic human being. And while Homer's The Odyssey
only touched upon "epic," dignified themes, Joyce devoted considerably
detailed passages to the most banal and taboo human activities:
gluttony, defecation, urination, dementia, masturbation, voyeurism,
alcoholism, sado-masochism and coprophilia-and most of these depictions
included the hero, Bloom.
- James Joyce's Ulysses & Homer's Odyssey Penelope, Leopold Bloom