Happy Bloomsday! A landmark new edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses
Today, 16 June, is Bloomsday – the annual celebration of James Joyce’s modernist masterwork, Ulysses.
The novel follows a day in the lives of its central characters, Leopold and Molly Bloom, and Stephen Dedalus, as they make their way around Dublin on the same date in 1904.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the novel’s publication in 1922 – a landmark celebrated by the publication of The Cambridge Centenary Ulysses: The 1922 Text With Essays and Notes, which helps readers to understand the pleasures of this monumental work and to grapple with its challenges.
Filled with maps, photographs and explanatory footnotes, the weighty 1,100 page edition provides a vivid and illuminating context for the experiences of Leopold, Stephen, Molly and Joyce’s many other Dublin characters. It also includes Joyce’s own errata, as well as references to amendments made in later editions.
Each of the 18 chapters of Ulysses is introduced by a leading Joyce scholar, who discusses the novel’s plot and allusions, while also explaining crucial questions that have puzzled and tantalised readers over the last 100 years.
Alex Wright, Head of Humanities Books, explained the significance of the new volume, which is edited by Catherine Flynn from the University of California, Berkeley.
He said: “James Joyce’s masterpiece is one of the greatest novels not just of Irish but of modern world literature. An iconic work, powerfully encapsulating not just the Irish literary experience but arguably the spirit and character of Ireland itself, it yet has a reputation in some quarters as a ‘difficult’ book whose rich, layered and enigmatic textures resist easy engagement or understanding. This sumptuous collector’s edition addresses that viewpoint by carefully guiding the reader through its central themes, characters and unique imaginative landscapes.”
“The Cambridge Centenary Ulysses is, we feel, the definitive expression of this landmark piece of fiction. It should be on the bookshelf of any admirer of Joyce who might want to get to know the writer better but who might previously also have felt intimidated by or put off from finding their way round his remarkable novel.”
It follows in a great tradition of Joyce publishing from Cambridge, and is already proving popular with readers and commentators. No less a luminary than novelist John Banville – winner of the 2005 Booker Prize – has written warmly of the venture, commending Catherine Flynn and her team for the quality of their elucidation and remarking on what “a great pleasure it is to have the facsimile of the original text”.
His endorsement, printed on the jacket, epitomises the general enthusiasm that there is in the world of literary studies for what looks set to be a milestone in Joyce publishing and a future classic in the field.
Copies of The Cambridge Centenary Ulysses are now available to buy from the Cambridge University Press Bookshop – just in time for Bloomsday.