Joyce - Ulysses
“Ulysses” is a modernist and quest novel which was published in Paris in 1922. The novel consists of 18 chapters, just like “Odyssey” and the title of each chapter is the name of a character in Homer’s epic poem. The setting is Dublin and surroundings.
The story is told from three different point of view
Leopold Bloom: the story takes place in one day (June 16th, 1904). The protagonist is Leopold Bloom, a Dubliner who works as an advertising agent. As Ulysses in “Odyssey”, Leopold is a wonderer: he wonders through the streets of Dublin. However, what happens to him is not heroic at all, but common and ordinary. For example, he goes to a Turkish bath, attends the funeral of a friend, has lunch, goes to a library, buys a few things, meets some people, goes to a pub, visits a hospital and finally goes to a brothel. There, at midnight he meets Stephen Dedalus, and takes him home with him.
Molly Bloom: she’s Leopold’s wife and the main character in the last part of the novel. Unlike Ulysses’ wife, Penelope, she’s unfaithful to her husband. At the end of the story she lies in her bed thinking about her past and present life and the novel ends with her interior monologue.
Joyce’s work is the best example of the reworking of a myth in modernist literature. In particular, in this novel there is the reversal of the Ulysses’ myth. As a matter of fact, Leopold is a wonderer just like Ulysses, but, unlike him, he’s an ordinary man; for this reason he may be considered as an anti-hero. As to Molly, she corresponds to Penelope, but unlike her she’s betrays her husband. Joyce employs the mythical method to underline the lack of heroism, love and trust in modern world.
The second phase of Joyce’s literary production (which "Ulysses" belongs to) is marked by modernist experimentation. Modernism is a literary movement which is a turning point in the history of the novel; as a matter of fact, it involves those novelists who tried to reproduce the stream of consciousness, that is all the physic phenomena which occur in an individual’s mind. The technique used to translate inner life into words is the interior monologue, or stream of consciousness technique. To reproduce the chaotic flow of thoughts in an individual’s mind the punctuation is eliminated and grammatical and syntactical rules are abandoned; as a matter of fact, thoughts first come to a person’s mind, and then they’re organized by reason.