Every two weeks
20 sessions in 40 hours
What is it about Ulysses? Richard Ellman called it “the most difficult of entertaining novels and the most entertaining of difficult ones.” There are many book lovers who openly brag about not having read it, but also many amateurs in the literary field who can’t seem to put it down. It’s reputation, – that of the 20th-century modernist masterpiece which changed the face of the novel – though accurate, has frightened a lot of first-time readers off. Some believe they lack the background knowledge in order to understand it, others are intimidated by its style and length. This, unfortunately, leads to some readers never truly enjoying a book that is, above all, an incredibly fun read. Nevertheless, Ulysses is still (re)read and loved by readers everywhere and is known to be a book you either never open or never really close. This course will surely persuade you to join the second group.
During our 20 sessions, you will get all the help necessary to be able to enjoy the reading itself. Each class is devoted to one chapter and looks closely at the Homeric parallels evident in the text, historical and biographical notes that feature in the chapter and the numerous references to other works of art. We will also discuss plot, settings and characters in order to help you understand what is going on and avoid the feeling of being dazed and confused in 1904 Dublin. Apart from these basic ingredients, we will spend time analyzing the language and style of each chapter as well as its place and function in the book as a whole. No previous knowledge or reading of Ulysses is necessary to take this course: all you have to do is sit back and let your teacher do the hard work so that you can go home and dive into the text with confidence and pleasure.
1// Introduction: a short look at James Joyce’s life and previous works; sources and inspiration – where did Leopold Bloom come from?; the publication of the first Ulysses and the subsequent (revised) editions; the schematic and narrative structure of Ulysses; Stephen Dedalus – origin story; Bloom family tree and possible sources for Molly.
2// Telemachus: Hierarchies Upturned; (reading: Chapter I)
3// Nestor: Authority and (Un)Learning; (reading: Chapter II)
4// Proteus: Stephen’s Quicksand Musings; (reading: Chapter III)
5// Calypso: Bloom, The Modern Odysseus; (reading: Chapter IV)
6// Lotuseaters: Faith and Mr. Flower; (reading: Chapter V)
7// Hades: The Other World; (reading: Chapter VI)
8// Aeolus: The Rhetoric of Void; (reading: Chapter VII)
9// Lestrygonians: The Gluttonous Body of Dublin; (reading: Chapter VIII)
10/ Scylla and Charybdis: Shakespeare’s Ghost(s); (reading: Chapter IX)
11/ Wandering Rocks: A City’s Consciousness; (reading: Chapter X)
12/ Sirens: Fuga per canone; (reading: Chapter XI)
13/ Cyclops: The One Eye of Nationalism, (reading: Chapter XII)
14/ Nausicaa: Of Gentlemen (and Masturbation); (reading: Chapter XIII)
15/ Oxen of the Sun: A Literary Evolution; (reading: Chapter XIV)
16/ Circe: Playing the Part; (reading: Chapter XV)
17/ Eumaeus: Who is Who?; (reading: Chapter XVI)
18/ Ithaca: The Catechism of Homecoming; (reading: Chapter XVII)
19/ Penelope: Back to Life; (reading: Chapter XVIII)
20/ Closing lecture. From ‘mn’ to ‘yes’: Ulysses – a look back. Leaving Ithaca for the Wake.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What level of English do I need in order to attend?
Preferably, your English level should be above B2 in order to fully enjoy the course. This doesn’t mean you have to show us any certificates in order to enrol, simply that you feel comfortable with spoken English and have no trouble following natural speech. It is perfectly acceptable to ask your teacher to repeat or write something down if you are not sure about it. You are also encouraged to ask questions, but this is not mandatory and nobody will make you speak unless you want to!
I have never read Joyce. Can I still attend?
Of course. No previous knowledge of Joyce or his books is necessary to follow the seminar. The teacher will start ‘from scratch’ and the classes will provide you with everything you need in order to read, understand and enjoy Ulysses. If you do want to get the most out of Ulysses, we suggest you read A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Joyce’s first novel, before the course to better introduce yourself to Stephen Dedalus.
Do I have to read ‘Ulysses’ before the course?
No. After the initial introductory session, each week will be dedicated to one chapter of the novel and this is the best way to follow the curriculum. If this is your first time reading Ulysses, it is probably best that you read each chapter after the session where it’s discussed and analyzed. This way you will go to the text with all the tools needed to fully enjoy it.
Will I have to read the book in English?
No. Although the class will be taught in English and the teacher will be quoting from the original text, you are more than welcome to read the novel in any language you are most comfortable with, Spanish and Catalan included. The list of recommended translations in available below. Having said that, do consider getting a copy in English for reference purposes.
I want to read the book in English. Which edition should I get?
The original text was full of mistakes and typos and was continually revised, including by Joyce himself. Therefore, we have witnessed many scholarly disputes over which edition has most respect for both Joyce’s text and his own corrections. In 1984 the famous “Gabler’s edition” (Vintage) was published, with numerous alterations based on extensive research, yet it was met with a lot of controversy. Nevertheless, it is the edition that students and academics mostly refer to and is a standard in Joycean studies.
Some publishers, however, have returned to the 1961 text, such as Modern Library, Penguin and Random House, and you’re welcome to use it as well. However, don’t lose sleep over this: what is important about Ulysses is present in both editions and the many details that scholars are fighting over will not impede your reading.
If you’re a fan of audio books, we recommend Jim Norton’s beautiful reading from 2008 with Marcella Riordan, directed by Roger Marsh and available through Audible.
Do I have to read other books as well?
You don’t have to read any of the books in Suggested bibliography. In fact, given the amount of books that have been written about Ulysses, it might be a bit confusing for first-time Joyceans to deal with all that information at once. The sessions will provide you with all the info needed to follow the novel, drawing from many different sources. The teacher will bring copies of essays or passages from these titles when they come up in class. You are, of course, welcome to consult any of the suggested reading titles if you still find yourself hungry for Ulysses after the seminar.
Catalan: the Mallafrè translation (1981)
Spanish: you can read a detailed comparison between the Salas Subirats translation (1945),the Valverde translation (1976) and the Venegas/Tortosa translation (1999) here.
French: the Morel translation (1929) or the Aubert translation (2004). You can read about the differences and close comparisons here.
Italian: the Terrinoni translation (2012).
German: the Goyert translation (1927) or the Wollschläger translation (1975, though we recommend the republished 2004 edition).
- Attridge, Derek, ed. James Joyce’s Ulysses: A Casebook. Oxford and New York: Oxford UP, 2004
- Benstock, Bernard. Critical Essays on James Joyce’s Ulysses. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1989.
- Birmingham, Kevin. The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce’s Ulysses. London: Head of Zeus Ltd., 2014.
- Burgess, Anthony. Here Comes Everybody: An Introduction to James Joyce for the Ordinary Reader (1965); also published as Re Joyce.
- Budgen, Frank. James Joyce and the Making of Ulysses. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, (1960).
- Ellmann, Richard. James Joyce. Oxford University Press, revised edition (1983).
- Ellmann, Richard, ed. Selected Letters of James Joyce. The Viking Press (1975).
- Ellmann, Richard. Ulysses on the Liffey. New York: Oxford UP, 1972.
- Gilbert, Stuart. James Joyce’s Ulysses: A study, Faber and Faber (1930).
- Weldon, Thornton. Allusions in Ulysses: An Annotated List. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1968 and 1973.
Feedback from students who have taken this course:
El curs de l’Ulisses ha estat una experiència immillorable per acompanyar una primera lectura de l’obra de Joyce. I crec que també pot ser un molt bon suport per a una relectura al cap dels anys o una empenta fantàstica per a qui vulgui reemprendre el llibre. Les sessions segueixen els capítols de l’Ulisses. Les classes passen volant i sovint no hi ha prou temps per tractar tots els aspectes destacables del llibre, ja que és inesgotable. Tanmateix, en cas de voler aprofundir en qualsevol punt, la Lana Bastasic, que coneix fantàsticament tota l’obra de Joyce, sempre sap apuntar referències en altres obres de l’autor i de la literatura, així com elements que els estudiosos han assenyalat al llarg de dècades. Per últim, cal destacar el bon ambient que hi ha a l’Escola Bloom en general. I el rigor i l’amenitat amb què la Lana fa les classes. — Jordi Jordana
Mi experiencia en la escuela Bloom ha sido estupenda: leer “Ulysses” disfrutando desde el primer día. El seminario de Lana te proporciona las claves necesarias para orientarte en cada capítulo, contagiándote su pasión por este texto tan increíble. El ambiente de sus clases es muy relajado y cercano pero manteniendo siempre una altísima calidad académica. En resumen: un curso genial para acercarse a un texto complejo pero también muy divertido. — Esther Miquel
Aunque la fama de difícil que persigue al libro de James Joyce, Ulises, es en cierto sentido excesiva, sé que probablemente nunca hubiera recorrido todas sus páginas sin la guía de Lana Bastasic. Su conocimiento de Ulises es profundo pero nunca abrumador; sus explicaciones aclaran posibles oscuridades y ayudan a sortear todo tipo de escollos… Al contrario de aquello que los perezosos del mundo nos habían hecho creer, no es posible comprender los últimos cien años de literatura sin aventurarse, en el sentido estricto de la palabra, tras los pasos de Leopold Bloom y, ya puestos, de Ulises el griego y de todos los viajeros que entre los personajes de Homero y de Joyce construyeron el mundo imaginario occidental. ¡Larga vida a Ulises y larga vida a la Escola Bloom! — Isabel Coderque
Please note that both instalments are mandatory, it is not possible to opt for one only.