While Bloom's passionate wife, Molly, conducts yet another illicit liasion (with her concert manager), Bloom finds himself getting into arguments with drunken nationalists and wild carousing with excitable medical students, before rescuing Stephen Dedalus from a brawl and returning with him to his own basement kitchen.
In the hands of Jim Norton and Marcella Riordan, experienced and stimulating Joycean readers, and carefully directed by Roger Marsh, Ulysses becomes accessible as never before. It is entertaining, immediate, funny, and rich in classical, philosophical, and musical allusion.
(P)2004 NAXOS AudioBooks Ltd.
"As ambitious and rewarding an audio production as any that exists, an audio experience that truly deserves to be cherished....Readers of Ulysses have long been encouraged to read out loud the more difficult sections for added comprehension and enjoyment of the language. Now, thanks to Naxos, the entire book is available in a performance to savor. It is safe to say that anyone wanting to experience the preeminent work of modern fiction has in this package the perfect audio companion." (AudioFile)
I've listened to 30+ books from Audible now and a few of them have needed a bit of persistence. I was keen to listen to Ulysses as I reasoned that I may be unlikely to finish the book in print if I attempted it.
It seems to me that the audiobook format is excellent for this incredible book. I can see why the book is rated so highly. The narrator is excellent and I found his characterisations worked very well. The pace was just right - quite hard to keep up but I don't think this is the book to read aloud slowly.
Did I understand everything? No. I had to review an online source at the end of each episode to keep up. But it is well worth it and I feel like I have experienced a very special piece of literature.
"Grant me, Lord, the courage and the joy / I need to scale the summit of this day”, wrote Jorge Luis Borges of "Ulysses" in one of his sonnets. Both are needed, courage and joy, since the most challenging works of literature should be enjoyable in their difficulty. When it comes to Joyce’s great work, a colossus among the colossals, it’s quite impossible to write about the reading experience succintly, to the point, and well. I’m trying, though.
I like reading "Ulysses", but equally I love listening to it. There is something about Joyce’s language and his way of expressing things that lends beautifully to performance. His words float, soar and swerve, and I think we are incredibly lucky to have an audiobook of the work that is without equal. Narrated by Jim Norton and Marcella Riordan, it is an unabridged recording (27 hours and 21 minutes) that has not only been expertly read, it’s actually recorded and mixed wonderfully, and it’s amongst the best audiobooks I’ve ever encountered. This is a monumental achievement in audiobook recording that cuts no corners, takes all the time it needs in the right places, and uses technology and vision to create an unforgettable listening experience.
One of the best audiobooks I’ve ever listened to.
This is audio books at their absolute best. I'm only a quarter of the way through but this is completely captivating. The range of voices Jim Riordan can produce is amazing: it brings the characters to life and helps the listener keep track of what is obviously a difficult 'plot'. He also brings a range of tone to the characters, distinguishing speech and thoughts very helpfully. Perhaps not the best bed-time listening - a fatal combination of mellifluous accents and aimless ramblings that has me dozing off in minutes - but there the fault is entirely my own.
Jim Norton's performance is the greatest triumph of reading-aloud that I ever expect to hear.
Looking at some of the earlier negative reviews, I feel like inviting these people to grow up a little. It is the rhetoric of the playground to dismiss something as rubbish merely because you yourself do not appreciate it.
This reading opened this wonderful, wonderful book to me. I, Seán Holden, have started what's always been called a hard read several times. Jim Norton has led me effortlessly through Bloom's journey. The depth of Joyce's understanding of language, mind and body is as profound as Shakespeare's and as beautiful. And he is funny and and he is learned. Having done the 27 hours I'm going to start all over again. Jim Norton's own understanding of the narrative and the distinctive presentation of the vast swirl of characters is perfection. It sounds just as I imagine it swooshing out of Joyce's head. The last chapter, read by Marcella Riordan, is a joy of pure eroticism with her enticingly beautiful voice taking us intimately inside Molly in every way. This is the best audio book performance I have ever heard. It gives us with ease the book we should all have.
I really wanted to read/listen to this book. Declared by many to be one of the most important novels ever written, it was sort of my personal ambition to read it.
Unfortunately, this book requires your full attention and as someone else observed, even listening to it while walking is too distracting to follow Joyce's thick narrative, turn gibberish.
He lost me, couple of hours into the story so entangled and impermeable, that in moments I didn't understand what I am listening to.
Perhaps I will go back to it, when I am so grown up, I have absolutely nothing else to do, than submerge myself to every word of this story.
For now, I will keep listening to books that are written for pleasure, rather than for mental work out.
The audio version makes this complex, many layered novel accessible and enjoyable.
This is incomparable to any book I have read to date.
The ability ot the narator to create different voices, accents and sounds was brilliant.
This book needs concentrated time to absorb, but I was always delighted to return to it and did so again and again and got more out of each reading.
I was surprised with how much enjoyed this book. Even after 3 readings, I feel there is still a rich vein to be excavated so I know I will return for more.
I listened and read on Kindle at the same time. If It was under my own steam I would never have made it. The combination worked well for me and is highly recommended.
This is an important book and to gain access to it to observe the way Joyce turns words over in his hands and plays with the form of language is awesome.
I can see me repeating this over the years.
There were some dull and inaccessible episodes in the middle (memorable for the wrong reasons) but overall the pictures that Joyce paints of life in Dublin are what stand out. The various interactions as the day goes on are deep, comedic and give a good insight to the life of the time.
What a fantastic performance. If you need a sense of his artistry read a section out aloud to someone and then play Norton's performance of the same passage. What skill!
The numerous accents and various pace of reading are just brilliant.
I also loved Marcella Riordan's contribution at the end of the book; very philosophical, sad and sensual at the same time.
No Far too long for one sitting
This has to be the best way to access this classic. Highly recommended
I grew up in Qatar, which is a small middle-eastern country. I have an odd worldveiw, largely because of that, but I'm basically a hard-work
I'm studying Joyce as part of my degree. I find his short stories engaging, thought provoking and very interesting. I find Ulysses impermiable, impregnable and impossible to get into. Jim Norton does a great job, but the book itself is a pain in the backside. I would recommend only trying this if you have a long summer of sitting in the conservatory concentrating on everything within the book. Joyce is so dense in writing style that any little detail missed can leave you wondering what everyone's talking about. I found any activity - washing dishes, cycling, even walking could lead to minor distractions which would cause me to lose my train of thought.
I bought this book as I had heard that it was the greatest novel ever written. But I found this to be an extremely difficult book to get to grips with. I thought I had a very good grasp of English literature, but most of this went over my head I seriously think you need an English degree to understand what going on here.
The narration and audio quality are both good.
This book was well worth the money and time invested - a master work which was read accurately and in keeping with the spirit and culture of the writer. The Irish accents of each character were deftly done and easy to identify for without the changes in irish dialect for different characters it would have been very difficult to follow - this book is like Shakespeare - easier followed when performed than when read. Some of the passages were in turn hilarious and disturbing - I was constantly impressed by the narrators skills. The book is NOT AN EASY LISTEN - it requires and deserves a lot of concentration which many folks wont be interested in giving it - it took me a long time to get through, but it was entirely worth it and I doubt if I would have had the stamina to read through the book. The narrators accents and infusion of life and character into the text were wonderful. I intend to listen to this one at least twice to get full richness of the work - Highly recommended.
"let it flow!"
The narration is flawless. NOT too fast... NOT mumbled...excellent modulation and everything...
The audio quality is excellent.
The writing is fascinating. It is not a novel which you try to "follow". If you do , you end up writing a negative review of it. The style is stream of consciousness, so you just let it flow in, through and around you.
I could never have read through the whole thing, so I'm grateful for this wonderful recording.
I have never heard a better reading of a novel than this amazing version of Ulysses. What a great reading! The spoken word brings this work so vividly to life, with all its accents, inflections, stage directions, and the music of the language. It is actually easier to follow and understand than reading the book itself. An unforgettable, wonderful experience! Highly recommended.
"Musical in more than one sense"
I've listened to several versions of this novel (or parts of them), including one by Donal Donelly and the newer one by John Lee; and while they all have their points of interest, this one captures the music best. I mean that literally: when one of the characters sings, Jim Norton sings too, rather than repeating the lyrics in sing-song fashion; and period music, including a number of titles specifically mentioned in the text, are scattered throughout. Norton has an incredible ability to mimic different characters in dialogue.
There are two flaws, but I can't bring myself to detract from the overall rating for either of them. First, the text used is an older one and includes a few misprints. Second, Jim Norton's volume varies considerably between the narrative and the dialogue. At times the narrative is almost whispered, and at times the dialogue is almost shouted. I found myself reaching often for the volume button. Even with that, though, Norton has one of the most pleasingly vibrant voices I've heard on any audiobook.
If you're going to tackle this book, have some kind of study guide at hand. It doesn't have to be TOO scholarly -- even SparkNotes will get you through some of the rougher patches. Or have the text itself to read along.
And don't forget to laugh. Despite its apparently pointless meandering through the streets of Dublin, this is one of the funniest books ever written.
"Nothing could be finer"
This is an epic to savor, a recording of such quality, read with such care, that I am NOT looking forward to the day when I hear the final words. Jim Norton makes the work of comprehending the many-layered references palatable and enjoyable; his various accents and characterizations allowed me to differentiate the different narratives; and his warmth and elocution made it a riveting experience. I highly recommend this book. In addition, let me say that you will get even more from it if you also order, from The Teaching Company (online), a series of 24 lectures by Professor James Heffernan of Dartmouth College on Joyce's Ulysses. I won't give the URL here, but it's easy enough to find. WIth the unabridged Naxos audiobook and the lectures, you will have an enriching, if somewhat exhausting, educational experience.
"Should be classified as art...."
This is probably as close to perfection as an audio book can be. The narration is excellent. The music tracks are perfect. The production values outstanding.
This is no easy piece of writing to grasp. It takes some background study---read Dubliners and Portrait of an Artist and the Odyssey first. Study them. Then pick up a couple good commentaries on this book---forget the quick notes.
A lot of work? Sure. Enjoyable? It's an experience more than a listen. The writing is beyond masterful. There are passages and chapters that will touch your core---some will leave a scar. It's that good.
This audio book isn't for everyone. But again, it could not be better.
"More often discussed than read. I can see why..."
First things first, hats off to Jim Norton for an inspired interpretation of what is not an easy read by any stretch of the imagination. Norton at least makes it possible for the listener to, by and large, keep up with what's happening. Most of the time.
Look, I can see why people rave about the genius of the book. The wildly shifting narratives are blinding to keep up with, especially the stream-of-consciousness chapters, and it must be a special talent that can not only put us in these different peoples' heads, but also parallel Homer's Odyssey in the process. I'm not familiar with Homer and am not particularly inclined to investigate, but all this still could not distract me from the fact that very little of interest is ever actually happening. I think that might kind of be the point though.
At the end of the day, it was on my bucket list to get through this so I'm really glad that I did it. But I would never say this was even close to being a fun read or a riveting story, so I would only recommend this to people who want that sense of satisfaction you might get by having read the book that all that fuss was over.
"This First-Time Reader Was Intoxicated"
I???ll rap rapturously about Ulysses, one day in the Dublin life of Joyce???s Odysseus, Leopold Bloom, as divinely read by the inspired Jim Norton. Norton smoothly moves among myriad accents, from the mild educated Irish of Bloom to the thick Irish of drunken local cronies, while ably babbling in British (cockney and upper crust), French, German, Italian, and Spanish accents. He even barks as a dog, meows as a cat, clucks as a hen, burbles as a baby, laughs as a horse, and sings, too, in the voice of whatever character happens to be singing. And Marcella Riordan reads Molly Bloom???s mesmerizing closing monologue with perfect thought and feeling.
Many things in Ulysses flew by me: the phrases in Latin and modern Romance languages; the references to Irish culture and politics; the identity of the Man in the Macintosh; the stream of consciousness memories and allusions; and the gargantuan vocabulary, by turns lushly sensual, eruditely scientific, beautifully ringing, coarsely slangy, and amusingly anachronistic. It helped to listen first to A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, the prequel to Ulysses, to ease in to Joyce???s exuberant approach to life and language. And the Naxos notes to Ulysses (downloaded pdf from Audible) helped, giving the chapter-by-chapter Homeric Odyssey titles and brief summaries of the different scenes.
Finally, I had a weltering, ecstatic experience. Joyce laughs at his flawed, eloquent, and human characters with wry glee, but he also loves them. It's exciting to start each new chapter anticipating what narrative and stylistic antics Joyce will put his people up to next. The novel is an encyclopedic cyclopean paean to life and art: ugly, beautiful, earthy, sublime, sexy, spiritual, sad, funny, ironic, heroic, playful, philosophical, particular, universal, scientific, poetic, honest, artificed, vernacular, elevated, irreverent, moving, challenging, searching, rewarding, and humane.
A selected list of contents: mastication, alimentation, defecation, imbibition, micturition, expectoration, menstruation, masturbation, prostitution, fornication, copulation, reproduction, delectation, aromatization, introspection, retrospection, altercation, conversation, calculation, impersonation, imagination, hallucination, narration, enumeration, divagation, versification, harmonization, sanctification, transformation, affirmation--yes.
"Perfect, excellent audiobook"
I taught this novel at UC Berkeley years ago and decided to treat myself to someone else reading it. Jim Norton's reading is excellent. And it revealed meanings in the novel that I had not noticed before. Norton is a wonderful actor who brings this text to life. For readers/listeners who find this novel difficult to get into, I would suggest having a guide, such as Stuart Gilbert's "James Joyce's Ulysses: A Study," at hand. Reading or rereading this novel repays whatever effort you put into it.
"Jim Norton does it"
You can actually learn a tremendous amount about Irish History, Church history, western culture and classical education by reading Ulysses. A monumental work that has been brought back to the epic oral tradition by Jim Norton.
Now in my opinion, this book would be completely inaccessible without Jim Norton. With Jim Norton, the book is accessible, but only with a lot of interest and curiosity. I enjoy it for the "inversion" Joyce pulls on the Odyssey. Ithaca is Ireland and Odysseus is a Jewish man that nobody seems to consider their equal.
Ulysses is best appreciated after having read Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (to understand Joyce's Stephen Character, and his issues with Ireland) and Homer's Odyssey (the mythic underpinning of the book). Also needed is Gifford's "Annotated Ulysses" which explains the Irish/Church history references as well as the puns and all of the references to 19th century poetry that Joyce laces throughout.
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