Ulysses and Us by Declan Kiberd
The Art of Everyday Life in Joyce's Masterpiece

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Synopsis

Why James Joyce’s great modernist masterpiece is a book that can teach ordinary people to live better lives.

Declan Kiberd, professor of Anglo-Irish literature at the University College Dublin and Ireland’s premier literary historian, offers an audacious, pioneering new take on James Joyce’s masterpiece. Ulysses, he argues, is not an esoteric work for the scholarly few but indisputably a work rooted in the lives of ordinary citizens, offering a humane vision of a more tolerant and decent life in the modern world.

Structuring his analysis around the mundane pleasures highlighted throughout the work—including waking, walking, and drinking—Kiberd progresses through each of Ulysses’s episodes to elegantly reveal that Joyce’s ultimate goal was to create a book honoring the richness of daily life. At a time when most other modernist authors adopted a rather dismissive tone toward popular culture and the emerging noise of industry, Joyce wrote Ulysses to extol the everyday man and embrace the bustle of middle-class streets. He wanted to infuse that commonplace Dublin world, in all of its grit and vulgar physicality, with a fierce passion and a miraculous interiority that would illuminate its underlying beauty.

For Kiberd, the seemingly banal hero of Ulysses, Leopold Bloom, embodies an intensely ordinary kind of wisdom and, in this way, offers us a model for living well, in the tradition of Homer, Dante, and the Bible—all of which Joyce drew on in writing his book. By shedding light on Joyce’s celebration of everyday life, Kiberd rescues Ulysses from the dusty shelves of rarified literary neglect and presents it to the audience it was originally written about and for which it was intended.
 

About Declan Kiberd

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Declan Kiberd is a professor of Anglo-Irish literature at the University College Dublin and the author of Inventing Ireland: The Literature of the Modern Nation , which won the Irish Times Prize, and of Ulysses and Us: The Art of Everyday Life in Joyce's Masterpiece . He lives in Dublin.
 
Published September 28, 2009 by W. W. Norton & Company. 416 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Ulysses and Us

Publishers Weekly

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Kiberd's take on Ulysses should be on every undergraduate syllabus that includes Joyce's epic work, as it is an ideal introduction for the uninitiated&

Jun 22 2009 | Read Full Review of Ulysses and Us: The Art of Ev...

Star Tribune

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One of Ireland's leading Joyce scholars walks the reader through "Ulysses," explaining and calming. That impossible chapter three? You're not supposed to understand it, he says.

Oct 18 2009 | Read Full Review of Ulysses and Us: The Art of Ev...

The Globe and Mail

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Declan Kiberd wants to rescue Joyce's great novel, and its everyman protagonist Leopold Bloom, from the clutches of the academy

Mar 05 2010 | Read Full Review of Ulysses and Us: The Art of Ev...

Scotsman.com

His premise is essentially one of reconciliation: on 16 June, 1904, while meandering through Dublin, impoverished, bohemian student Stephen Dedalus will meet up with bourgeois married man Leopold Bloom, when the two sides, the bohemian and the bourgeois, will be reconciled to one another.

Jun 04 2009 | Read Full Review of Ulysses and Us: The Art of Ev...

Bookmarks Magazine

By jonSun, 10/18/2009 - 19:56.

Oct 18 2009 | Read Full Review of Ulysses and Us: The Art of Ev...

Spirituality & Practice

Through the episodes in Ulysses, Kiberd probes various aspects of human life — waking, learning, thinking, walking, praying, dying, reporting, eating, reading, wandering, singing, drinking, ogling, birthing, dreaming, parenting, teaching, and loving.

| Read Full Review of Ulysses and Us: The Art of Ev...

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