Updated date:

James Joyce’s “Ulysses”, Dublin, Molly and Me

An Air Warrior who has published over a100 short stories and 8 books on fiction,5 novels, and 4 books on military history

james-joyces-ulysses-dublin-molly-and-me
james-joyces-ulysses-dublin-molly-and-me

Introduction: James Joyce

I have always felt life is like a dream and there are many writers who fuel this dream. These center around the bizarre and revolve around exotic women. One of the writers who fueled such a dream is James Joyce. I wonder how many have heard of him or read his works. James Joyce's fame rests on the shoulders of just one book. Happily, the world over in English literature, his book Ulysses has left a legacy that is difficult to emulate.

James Joyce was an Irish writer who spent his early years and youth in Dublin. He is one of the foremost writers of the English language and some critics rate his novel “Ulysses” the greatest novel of the 20th century. Who was Ulysses? Everybody knows about him. He is a central character of Homer's epic the Iliad also referred to as Odyssey. James Joyce used the metaphor of Ulysses for his novel.

Joyce was born in 1882 and died in 1941 in Zurich at the height of the war.

James Joyce has a close connection with Dublin. The setting of his novel is Dublin. Unfortunately, Joyce visited Dublin only twice after he left it in 1904. Joyce was born in West Rathgar, Dublin, in 1882, one of the ten children of May and John Joyce and her husband John, a professional singer and later rate-collector from a bourgeois Catholic family. He was always a rebel and had very little money as well. He met Nora Barnacle in 1903 and persuaded her to leave Ireland and after that, he moved all over to Paris, Rome, and Zurich.

Dublin and Me

I had never been to Dublin. But I wanted to go there as it was the scenario of “Ulysses”. I had read that the Irish had earlier ignored James Joyce. But times had changed and James Joyce now is good tourist material. His house is preserved as a relic. Well, how times change. I visited Dublin in 2008 and visited all the places that James Joyce had alluded to in his book. It was a refreshing visit.

The Irish arrange walking tours of the places mentioned in the novel. Almost most of the pubs like the Oval and the Mulligan are still there. The fact is that after decades the Irish have recognized that James Joyce is great. He also appeared on banknotes from 1993-99.


james-joyces-ulysses-dublin-molly-and-me
james-joyces-ulysses-dublin-molly-and-me

Ulysses

One of the reasons for this was the conservative atmosphere in Ireland. The Irish could not fathom what James Joyce had written and judged him more by the explicit paragraphs of his books that described human activities in a naked and descriptive manner.

I think very few people have read “Ulysses”. It’s a difficult book. I read it only because of the character of Molly. She is a woman in flesh and blood and so realistic that she appears almost like a character that you would like to touch. Maybe even cuddle in your arms.

The novel was published on 2 February 1922. It is one of the foremost proponents of Modernist literature. The entire novel chronicles the passage of one day 16 June 1904 in the life of the main protagonist Leopold Bloom.

It’s a voluminous book running into 265,000 words and is divided into 18 episodes. Most of the book is a rambling account some of it may appear disjointed. Joyce also creates Molly and she is one character that is the theme of the book.

Molly

Molly has impressed me. Perhaps the denouement at the end of the novel which I quote here is something almost fantastic. Joyce writes. This one paragraph shows the genius of James Joyce.

He asked me would I say yes today, yes my mountain flower rand first put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breast all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will yes”.

Molly is an ambivalent character. She loves her husband Bloom but also waits to have sex with her lover. Joyce writes and creates enigmas. Perhaps his aim was to give an electric shock to the reader.

It is strange that this novel should have been banned in England in the thirties, but later when the literary merit of the novel was recognized, the ban was lifted.

James Joyce Personal Life

Joyce was a very talented man. He learned Norwegian, so as to be able to read the works of Henrik Ibsen in their raw version. He spent free time reading the philosophers Aristotle, Dante and Aquinas. Joyce could speak 17 languages and that included complex languages like Arabic and Sanskrit. Despite his explicit descriptions in the book, Joyce lived a tame personal life. He met a hotel chambermaid in Ireland and two lived together till he married her much later.


james-joyces-ulysses-dublin-molly-and-me
My Molly

My Molly

Verdict

In 1918, James Joyce's novel Ulysses was published in installments by a small Greenwich Village magazine, The Little Review. The novel immediately comes under the eye of the New York Anti-Vice Society because of its frank sexual content.

The publishers are tried under obscenity provisions in the U.S. Postal Code in 1920 and are found guilty. A fine is slapped on them and they are ordered to cease publication.

In 1922, an American bookseller in Paris, Shakespeare, and Co publish a first edition, which sells out instantly. Poets Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, and novelist Ernest Hemingway support him. He is hailed by some as the greatest modern writer of English prose. The book is routinely smuggled into both the United States and Great Britain, where it is also banned.

Random House after a four-year legal battle could publish the book in the States in 1934. Four years later, the book is published in England. The world is changing, a book banned is by the end of the 20th century, taught in colleges and universities around the world. In 1998, a board of distinguished writers convened by Random House's Modern Library series selects Ulysses as the best novel of the century.

James Joyce is a great writer. Through his one monumental work “Ulysses” he created a genre of literature. The book has striking references to the episodes in the life of Ulysses or Odyssey. It’s the work of a genius. James Joyce “Ulysses” is not an easy-to-read novel. He writes with deep symbolism and stark descriptions. I have been in love with the character Molly. A great female character created by James Joyce. I have been searching for Molly but I wonder if I will ever find her. Don't take it literally, it's a metaphor.


Comments

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on April 16, 2021:

Peggy, thanks for commenting.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on April 16, 2021:

I have read the "Iliad" and the "Odyssey" but not "Ulysses." Thanks for telling us about the author, James Joyce. He certainly acquired the gift of languages!

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on April 15, 2021:

Cheers Sangre!!

Sp Greaney from Ireland on April 15, 2021:

@emge, Me to. Let's hope 2022 turns out to be better year for us all.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on April 15, 2021:

HI ! so nice you replied. I will again visit Ireland but I wonder when this virus will go.

Sp Greaney from Ireland on April 15, 2021:

@ emge, I think everyone should visit it at least once. It's a great place. No, I don't live in that part but I used to travel to the city pre-covid. If you ever visit Ireland again head to Cork. It's a lovely city as well. People are so friendly.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on April 15, 2021:

Thanks, Sangre for commenting. Are you from Dublin? I went there in 2008, a lovely place. It's good to learn that the Irish have realized his greatness.

Sp Greaney from Ireland on April 15, 2021:

This was an interesting article. People do seem to love his works and in Ireland on the 16th June every year, they hold a Bloomsday festival in Dublin to celebrate his life and work.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on April 15, 2021:

Devika, so nice you commented

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on April 15, 2021:

emge Thank you for sharing an informative hub on James Joyce’s “Ulysses”, Dublin, Molly and Me. It is interesting to read about the success of another author. Sometimes one tries hard and nothing comes of it.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on April 14, 2021:

Manatitaji, it is such a pleasure to read your comment.

manatita44 from london on April 14, 2021:

"Never give up, never give up! I can still hear our Guru's words, ringing in my Heart. Perhaps Joyce had a vision. Glad the book finally got the credit it deserved. A bit like JK Rowling, perhaps. Similar road to success.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on April 14, 2021:

Pamela, thanks for sparing time and commenting.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on April 14, 2021:

Hi have heard of James Joyce, but I have not read 'Ulysses'. Thank you for such a good account of this author and her book, MG.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on April 14, 2021:

Yes, Rosy, I remember you, thank you for sparing time and commenting.

Rozy Ferrao on April 14, 2021:

Hi Emge, are you the same man who studied law with me at KC College? Probably you are, so nice to read your article and I also looked up your novels, superb! Sad you are still looking for Molly, yes I married but the long drives with you on your Bullet are fresh in my mind. Take care and LOL

Related Articles