Trivia / Ulysses

Put Ulysses -related trivia here.

  • Banned in China: Ulysses - especially the last chapter - was considered so obscene that it was banned in most English-speaking countries for well over a decade, in some cases starting even before the novel came out (it was serialized on both sides of the Atlantic). Thousands of copies were seized and burned by the authorities.
  • Comically Missing the Point: A meta-example. The book takes place on June 16 1904, and June 16 is celebrated around the world but especially in Ireland as Bloomsday, on which fans of the book (or people who'd like be thought of as fans of the book) dress up in Edwardian clothes and travel around Dublin visiting the book's locations. One common Bloomsday activity is to eat a huge cooked breakfast consisting of all the things Bloom is said to enjoy eating for breakfast: kidneys, cod roe, liver, "the inner organs of beasts and fowls" generally. This is in spite of the fact that Bloom is depicted as a light eater, whose breakfast consists of a cup of tea, a kidney and a slice of bread and butter.
  • Defictionalization: All the locations are real, some still exist, and real-life Dubliners crop up as characters with their real names.
  • Troubled Production: Joyce spent several years piecing the novel together from various notebooks and scraps of paper, sometimes just containing a single word, while at the same time struggling to feed his family and going blind from a very painful condition. Serializing the novel while it was still being written gave him an audience, but also put him in the crosshairs of Moral Guardians, resulting in no established publisher or printer wanting to touch the novel for fear of going to jail. When a friend of his with no previous publishing experience offered to publish it, he kept on writing and revising right up until the novel was printed, and then revised the novel further in later printings, resulting in a fight over which version is the correct Ulysses that's still going on. As soon as the novel was published, it took over 10 years of legal wrangling, book burnings, smuggling operations, and numerous error-filled and bowdlerized bootleg versions, before it could be legally published in the US and the UK. As Time magazine put it when the first legal US edition came out in 1934:
    Last week, a much-enduring traveler, world-famed but long an outcast, landed safe and sound on US shores. His name was Ulysses.
  • While the most famous bearer of the name is usually called Odysseus by literate people today, in antiquity he seems to have been more widely known as Oulixes or Olysseus in Greek, Ulysses or Ulixes in Latin, and Uilix in Irish. The title of the famous poem about him, Odysseia (The Odyssey) may be a play on the name Olysseus and the verb odyssomai (hate) because two important plot points are Poseidon's hatred for the hero, and the wrath the hero visits upon the suitors upon returning home.
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