TIMOTHY MARTIN What shall we call Ulysses? In a 1974 essay on "The Genre of Ulysses," A. Walton Litz offered a short catalog of terms that scholars have applied to Joyce's great experiment in fiction. "At one time or another," Litz wrote, "Ulysses has been presented as a stark naturalistic drama, a symbolist poem, a comic epic in prose, even a conventional novel of character and situation."1 Joyce himself, as he prepared his readers for an encounter, in the early 1920s, with a work with few obvious precedents, did somewhat better. He told his friend Carlo Linati that the book was an "epic of two races (Israel-Ireland)," a "cycle of the human body," and "a kind of encyclopaedia." It was also, he said, a "little story of a day."2 In his study "Ulysses" and Us: The Art of Everyday Living, Declan Kiberd links Joyce's novel to the tradition of what he calls "wisdom literature."3 Like the Bible, the works of Homer, and the Aeneid, Ulysses serves, in Kiberd's reading, more than the usual purposes of epic storytelling. It also functions as a repository of advice, chapter by chapter, on such quotidian matters as waking, learning, thinking, and walking.
Joyce Studies Annual – Fordham University Press
Published: Mar 15, 2016
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