Tuesday, 2 February 2010

On this day...

One of the most important works of modernist literature, James Joyce's 'Ulysses', was published in 1922. The novel was first serialised in American magazine 'The Little Review' between 1918 and 1920, but it was not until two years later that the work was published in its entirety. From a young age, Joyce was infatuated with Ulysses, otherwise known Odysseus, writing a school essay in which he described him as his 'favourite hero'. Calling Ulysses the only all-round character in literature, this fascination continued into Joyce's literary career. The name was originally thought of as a title for the popular work 'The Dubliners', but later transferred to Joyce's epic novel. The novel itself, of over 265,000 words, is narrated in stream-of-conciousness form, ensuring its place as first in the Modern Library's list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. Yet its journey has not always been smooth. Joyce himself said that he 'put in so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant' and indeed such seemed the confusion, that the novel was banned for obscenity in the United States and later in the United Kingdom. Since then, eighteen editions are thought to have been published; each an imitation on the last.

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