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Ulysses on the Web

In my last post I discussed many of the “old-fashioned” (e.g. print) resources that are available for the struggling reader of Ulysses (and we’re all struggling readers when it comes to Joyce). But these resources have largely been supplanted in the Internet Age– the web has proven to be a very hospitable place for Joyce-studies. The man who is credited with inventing the term “weblog” was a Joyce-fanatic, to give you some idea (more on that in a moment).

I’ve referred you here before, but I think it’s a good place to start so I’ll mention it again: the Joyce page at the Modern Word has a lot of great background information and introductory essays (their Pynchon page is excellent as well, FYI). Here is their page introducing Ulysses in particular. They also have a page of links, but many of them are broken: the site does not appear to have been updated since 2004. (If anyone out there knows what happened to the site, I’d love to hear: I tried contacting them, but their email is out of service as well.)

A couple of commenters have mentioned Jorn Barger (the aforementioned coiner of the term “weblog”) and his incredible Robot Wisdom site. This is an incredibly extensive resource, but it is sometimes daunting: Barger is a lifelong Joycean, and his readings are often intricate and polemical. So, proceed with caution. (But do proceed!) The site is no longer being updated, but you can keep up with Jorn here.

More useful for the first-time reader are Michael Groden’s notes. Created to aid his students, Groden provides extensive background and though-provoking analysis of each episode (navigating the site takes some getting used to, though). It’s sort of like really smart Cliff’s Notes.

One of the most captivating (and distracting) sites is JoyceImages, which collects period images for all sorts of references throughout Ulysses. It is truly amazing, and was praised by Rob Berry at Ulysses “Seen” as “my favorite, most inspirational and most commonly used Joyce site. For a visual understanding of the world ULYSSES works in this is as seminal a text as Gifford’s.”

And, oh yeah, there’s also Ulysses “Seen” and their amazing Reader’s Guide. A work in progress, this site will get you through the first chapter, and leave you wanting more. (And more about that will be forthcoming, here, soon). 

These are the sites I’ve found most useful, but there are many, many more: not to mention the fact that people are writing about Joyce on blogs and Twitter every day (here’s a nice post from the past Bloomsday). Feel free to post links in the comments to any relevant sites I’ve failed to mention: I’m always looking for new distractions.

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  1. Prolixian
    July 6, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    I come to Ulysses by way of Infinite Jest (via Infinite Summer) and I have immediately noted
    1. I miss endnotes. Joyce left it for the guide writers to provide all the commentary that Wallace put in his endnotes. I keep looking for the superscripts…
    2. I hear that IJ has just been released for iPad as a dedicated app, presumabley with the endnotes embedded and linkable. A comparable version of Ulysses would be perfect, especially if one could quickly touch/”mouse over” references and see extra information without leaving the text page.
    3. Although the New Bloomsday Book is a terrific resource, I’m finding it to be too distracting from the prose of Ulysses to refer to it often. Letting Joyce’s prose just roll over my mind like waves might make me work harder to follow the references but it is far more satisfying.

    • Judd Staley
      July 7, 2010 at 10:28 am

      1. But Wallace’s footnotes aren’t *really* commentary, are they?

      2. Someone asked me about Ulysses for iPad: anybody out there reading on one? I’m curious what their version is like.

      3. Yeah, as I said in my previous post, I’m not crazy about reading along with a guide. I prefer to turn to them later, after I’ve had some time to savor, and digest, Joyce’s words.

  2. Prolixian
    July 7, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    Judd,

    Thanks for your comments.
    1. Of course, Wallace’s footnotes are an integral part of the whole novel, and I believe he was phenomenally mindful of their placement and content with respect to the flow and integrity of the whole. I’m not a Joyce scholar by ANY conceivable stretch, but I imagine that the variances in the flow of reading caused by pausing to contemplate meaning and import are engineered with the same intent and care. My comment is really directed toward a re-imagining of Ulysses in an IJ framework, prompted by my observation of my own reaction as a recent IJ reader – I keep sensing the placement of footnotes that do not exist. Phantom footnotes, if you will. Regardless of my initial reaction, though, I think the actual brain work involved in catching the oblique references in Ulysses without the superscript visual cues enhances the pleasure of the reading.

    2. I don’t have an e-reader of any kind but I’m considering one, so I’m interested in hearing about the experiences of others with them.

    3. IMHO, you are spot-on.

    • Judd Staley
      July 8, 2010 at 9:34 am

      Phantom footnotes, eh? Very interesting idea. I wonder what you imagine them containing? You should check out Gérard Genette’s book, _Paratexts_: he has an interesting chapter on notes. There are different kinds, of course, primarily explanatory (like the kind most people associate with reading modernist works in Norton editions) and tangental/expansive (like most of Wallace’s, and those of belle-lettrists, etc.). And of course, we aren’t really talking about *foot*-notes here at all (as Wallace afficionados love to point out): the notes in IJ are endnotes, and the published notes to Ulysses (by Don Gifford) comprise a whole separate volume, about as long as the novel itself.

  3. Kimberly Reed
    July 9, 2010 at 11:12 am

    Thank you for this. I am using my Blamires guide and my own references , but the visual sites you mention are especially helpful.

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