Ulysses: James Joyce
The best-known work of the second period of the 20th century is Ulysses. It is an ommense , multi-layered , complex work, and here it is only possible to suggest some of its theme and modes of expression. It takes as its material a single day , June 16, 1904, in the life of three Dubliners (two men and a woman), and it is divided into three corresponding parts.
According to the structure of this novel the central character in the first part is Stephen Dedalus, the Joycean alter ego, whom we can find also in the note on A portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Stephen is a young man with intellectual ambitions, the enemy of his own country and martyr to art. His Christian name, Stephen, is that of the first Christian martyr; Stephen is a similarly young man preaching the gospel of art to the Irish, who maltreats him as the jew
did Stephen the Martyr. His surname , Dedalus, is of course that of the legendary Greek artificer: Stephen desires to convert the philistine Irish to the cult of beauty and art inherited from the Greek culture.
The second part of Ulysses is dominated by the figure of Leopold Bloom, the Ulysses of the title: a middle-aged married man, who wanders around Dublin as Ulysses wandered around the Mediterranean, encountering adventures which roughly parallel those of the Homeric hero. The third part of Ulysses is dominated by his wife, Molly Bloom, who corresponds to Ulysses's wife Penelope, just as Stephen Dedalus represents Ulysses's son Telemachus.
The novel begins with Stephen evicted from his lodgings and forced to wander the streets in search of a father and a home ; in his wanderings he meets Bloom , who "adopts" him by offering to take him home and give him shelter. At home , awaiting the wanderers, is Molly Blooms, like Penelope on Ithaca (although not so faithful). The book concludes with her ruminations as she lies awake in her bed.