Ulysses, part 1 of 9

Parts 2 through 9 in the sidebar.

This is a documentary/movie-like adaption of Ulysses. It does a good job of it, from what I’ve see, but it’s a creative adaption, so certain things are not exactly as they are in the book, but whoever made this series seems to have known the book well enough to make a good series in spite of the edits.

A note; there’s a very odd, poor quality four or five minute intro/song on this video. The whole movie is not like that.


“…it’s a book associated with dificulty whereas, in fact, it should be associated with joy.”

Here is a short, 2min, book review of Ulysses by writer Stephen Fry. It’s one of the first videos that appears when entering “Ulysses by James Joyce” into Youtube search.

I feel like if I, or anybody else, were stuck in a room with nothing to do but read Ulysses for a month, I would come to enjoy and understand it as Fry does in this video.

Fry is wrong about one point in the review, however; the last words are not “Yes, yes, yes.” They are “Yes I will.”

The writing style of Ulysses

Attempting to read Ulysses, or attempting to empathize with somebody who attempted to read Ulysses, is very dificult without some prior knowledge of how the book is written and structured.

The book is divided into eighteen chapters, each one structured differently from the rest and each one having a sort of obsessive theme with a color or scientific or artistic development. The chapters are divided into three parts; the Telemachus, the Odyssey, and the Nostos. Telemachus and Nostos both have three chapters, Odyssey has twelve. There’s a reason for this, there’s probably a dozen reasons, but none are apparent to me, as I’ve only read the book once; people do actually study these works for years. Books have been written about this book.

The name of the second part, Odyssey, is a good place for me to segue into the most prominent allusion of the book; each chapter is one hour of the day on June 16th, starting at eight or nine in the morning and ending past midnight the next day, and each one hour chapter parallels a chapter or scene from Homer’s Odyssey.

Several of Joyce’s friends had trouble understanding the book, so he put together a listing of certain themes. Two of these have been collected here and here. I wish I had found them before I started reading, but they were helpful none the less.

The Ballad of Joking Jesus

“The Song of the Cheerful (but slightly Sarcastic) Jesus” was a poem written by a man named Oliver Gogarty, a friend of Joyce. The poem was initially published fully under this name and later in Ulysses as a little tune Buck Mulligan (one of the characters in the first three sections of the book) sings.

“The Song of the Cheerful (but slightly Sarcastic) Jesus” can be found here. This is probably the best source for the poem on the web.

The Ballad of Joking Jesus has been reprinted here:

I’m the queerest young fellow that ever you heard
My mother’s a Jew, my father’s a bird.
With Joseph the Joiner I cannot agree
So here’s to disciples and Calvary.
If anyone things thinks that I amn’t divine
He’ll get no free drinks when I’m making the wine
But have to drink water and wish it were plain
That I make when the wine becomes water again.
Goodbye, now, goodbye! Write down all that I said
And tell Tom, Dick, and Harry I rose from the dead.
What’s bred in the bone cannot fail me to fly
And Olivet’s breezy… Goodbye, now, goodbye!

I included this little rhyme in my blog because it’s one of the earliest and easily recognizable allusions, and is one of the first instances of James Joyce basing a character off of somebody he knew in real life; literature isn’t the only thing the book alludes to. Furthermore, it displays the irreverence of James Joyce well.