An extraordinary edition
Ulysses is an immense and overwhelming book, the sheer scale of it apparent even in such a brief summing up. Eighteen different episodes, each told in a different way, packed with learning, fizzing with life, exciting, challenging, moving, but never solemn.
Ulysses may chronicle a single day in a single city, but it teems with zestful humanity. Joyce is a man who keeps company with his characters. In the words of John Berger, who first ‘sailed’ into Ulysses when he was 14 years old, ‘he listened to their stomachs, their pains, their tumescences: he heard their first impressions, their uncensored thoughts, their ramblings, their prayers without words, their insolent grunts and their heaving fantasies’.
‘She blinked up out of her avid shameclosing eyes, mewing plaintively and long, showing him her milkwhite teeth. He watched the dark eyeslits narrowing with greed till her eyes were green stones. Then he went to the dresser took the jug Hanlon’s milkman had just filled for him, poured warmbubbled milk on a saucer and set it slowly on the floor’
Multi-award-winning artist and Joyce devotee John Vernon Lord has provided a series of extraordinary illustrations, as well as an iconic binding design. Describing the process as ’a humbling experience’, Lord has also written a revealing introductory essay that places the images in context, illuminating the myriad meanings, symbols, events and inspirations behind each piece. Lord acts almost as a guide to the labyrinthine narrative. The praedella strip of images at the bottom of each illustration references the Linati ‘schema’, a way of navigating through the text created by Joyce for his friend Carlo Linati.