392 Readings

Budgen, Frank. James Joyce and the Making of Ulysses.

Gilbert, Stuart. James Joyce’s Ulysses: A Study. 

Kenner, Hugh. Ulysses.

Episodes 1-3: Telemachiad


Eliot, T. S. “Ulysses, Order, Myth


The last time we saw Stephen was one year ago in final passages of The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. In the final passage of the novel, Stephen is preparing to leave for Paris in order to achieve his artistic dream. 

APRIL 26. Mother is putting my new secondhand clothes in order. She prays now, she says, that I may learn in my own life and away from home and friends what the heart is and what it feels. Amen. So be it. Welcome, O life, I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.

APRIL 27. Old father, old artificer, stand me now and ever in good stead.

At the beginning of Ulysses, we see a different Stephen. The expansive hope of A Portrait has been replaced by the battlements of the Martello tower. 

Critical Approaches

And if the Portrait may be summarised as Stephen’s effort to substitute one father for another, Ulysses may be (most imperfectly) summarised as the story of Bloom’s futile effort to treat Stephen as a son. Stephen in Ulysses is no longer in search of a father, as he was in the Portrait. He is obsessed by a dead mother, and as for fathers, living or mythic, elected or adoptive, his present instinct is to get clear of them. (Kenner)

Complete Man [Character] of literature: 

“Joyce spoke again more briskly: ‘You seem to have read a lot, Mr. Budgen. Do you know of any complete all-round character presented by any writer?'” (Budgen)

Your complete man in literature is, I suppose, Ulysses?” “Yes,” said Joyce. “No-age Faust isn’t a man. But you mentioned Hamlet. Hamlet is a human being, but he is a son only. Ulysses is son to Laertes, but he is father to Telemachus, husband to Penelope, lover of Calypso, companion in arms of the Greek warriors around Troy and King of Ithaca. He was subjected to many trials, but with wisdom and courage came through them all. Don’t forget that he was a war dodger who tried to evade military service by simulating madness. He might never have taken up arms and gone to Troy, but the Greek recruiting sergeant was too clever for him and, while he was ploughing the sands, placed young Telemachus in front of his plough.” (Budgen)

“Among other things,” [Joyce] said, “my book is the epic of the human body. (Budgen)


The Writing of Ulysses

I enquired about Ulysses. Was it progressing?
“I have been working hard on it all day,” said Joyce.
“Does that mean that you have written a great deal?” I said.
“Two sentences,” said Joyce.
I looked sideways but Joyce was not smiling. I thought of Flaubert.
“You have been seeking the mot juste?” I said.
“No,” said Joyce. “I have the words already. What I am seeking is the perfect order of words in the sentence. There is an order in every way appropriate. I think I have it.” (Budgen)


…gadgetry epitomises a shift of emphasis between the two books. In Ulysses, as Joyce’s friend and one of his best commentators, the late Frank Budgen, shrewdly observes, people have ‘just that social time sense that is part of the general social mentality of the period, and no more. This arises out of the necessity for coordinating their daily social movements. . . . James Watt invented the steam engine, and the steam engine begat the locomotive, and the locomotive begat the timetable, forcing people to . . . think in minutes where their great-grandfathers thought in hours. . . . The discoveries of the astronomer and the mathematician have less immediate effect on [social time-sense] than the electrification of the suburban lines.’ (Kenner)