The New Bloomsday Book: A Guide Through Ulysses
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The New Bloomsday Book: A Guide Through Ulysses

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  508 ratings  ·  78 reviews

Since 1966 readers new to James Joyce have depended upon this essential guide to Ulysses. Harry Blamires helps readers to negotiate their way through this formidable, remarkable novel and gain an understanding of it which, without help, it might have taken several readings to achieve.

The New Bloomsday Book is a crystal clear, page-by-page, line-by-line running commentary o

Kindle Edition, 272 pages
Published (first published January 1st 1988)
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I know some people would like to read Ulysses but can't find the six months in their busy schedules they think they'll need, so here's the short version. It consists of the first and last lines from each chapter. It struck me how stunningly beautiful these sentences are, so even if you never do get to read Ulysses, you can get the gist of the damn thing right here. Let's go. (I also add my own summary of the action in brackets).


Stately, plu...more
After just completing my first reading of Ulysses, I am joining my voice to the GR chorus of appreciation for Blamires's guide. MJ referred to it as indispensable in his review, and I concur with his assessment.

Blamires provides short, beautifully written overviews of each episode, but these overviews are not simply summaries (although his summaries are indispensable in certain passages and episodes that otherwise could be difficult to follow). Instead, Blamires also discusses some approaches to...more
MJ Nicholls
Essential for the Ulysses neophyte, like me. Don’t attempt Ulysses without reading this alongside. Some people, understandably, won’t read books that require additional explanatory texts—Shakespeare, we all know, can be completely incomprehensible without the side-by-side notes, and no fun or spoiled when rendered in updated English—but this essential précis illuminates and 100% enhances one’s pleasure from the Ulysses experience. Fact. Most attention is paid to the extremely difficult chapters—...more
K.D. Absolutely
I will forever be grateful to Harry Blamires for writing this book. I would not have finished reading James Joyce's masterpiece, Ulysses if not for this. Ulysses is that type of book that for most people is insurmountable: they hear that it is good, they buy it, they try to read a few pages, they drop it, but they display it on their shelves like a trophy but never to read again. For an ordinary, i.e., no in-depth formal training on literature, readers (like me), I think the only way for this no...more
Helina Shaka
Apr 23, 2007 Helina Shaka rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who wants to tacle on ulysses
This is so helpful in the reading of Ulysses. Do yourself a favor and read them at the same time. The Bloomsday book will be your own personal Virgil, and I don't mean to compare reading Ulysses to touring hell or anything. You get my drift...
Of the various commentaries on Ulysses my reading group utilized, this was by far the clearest and best organized. Blamires' writing is insightful and straightforward. A must-have companion to anyone who is reading Ulysses.
Elisabeth Kinsey
This is the only companion to have while reading Ulysses. I read the Blamires commentary first, then read the Joyce chapter. Very satisfying!
I'm pretty grateful to Blamires for pointing out all the bodily functions I would have plumb missed reading Ulysses on my own.
Blamires kindly summarizes the plot (and assorted deviations) of James Joyce's monstrously complex masterpiece. Though he notes a significant number of allusions, symbols, and thematic developments, Blamires attempts -- I think -- to be as unintrusive as he can, while still guiding the reader through the byzantine text. For the most part, I found The New Bloomsday Book a helpful (though not always necessary) accompaniment to Ulysses, although sometimes I was perturbed to find that Blamires had s...more
Jan 16, 2008 martha rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people climbing the Ulysses mountain
Shelves: 5-star-books
Very very helpful as a companion guide to Ulysses! I started out reading a few pages in Ulysses, then bouncing back to this to get a clearer perspective on it, which gradually happened less and less (tho' the opening paragraph for each chapter was really useful to set up what was going on/the stylistic significance), until by the end I didn't need it at all -- which I think means it did its job!

Co-reading with Ulysses. Strikes an excellent balance between annotation and accessibility. It's alrea...more
I expected the primary purpose of this book to be to point out patterns and obscure references and clarify the more difficult passages in Ulysses. To some degree, it does, but it's actually closer to Cliff's Notes in that the primary purpose seems to be to summarize the book. For some chapters of Ulysses I found that to be pretty useful, for others, unnecessary.
I've decided to cut and run. You heard it! I've decided that a book like Ulysses which only elicits angst in me is not worth the investment. So I'm going to listen to my intuition and shred it to pieces. ;)

This book, for those who want to push on and read Ulysses, is probably an excellent investment for you!

Good luck. And don't cry.
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Sep 16, 2011 Jenny (Reading Envy) rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jenny (Reading Envy) by: Ed
Shelves: read2011
Essential to the understanding of Ulysses by James Joyce. In the order of my own reading, I would read this after every chapter of Ulysses before the other books, because it was the simplest look. It would summarize the events of the chapter and sometimes point to themes or tricks, without going too deep or far.
I'm working my way through James Joyce's Ulysses--I always figured no English major worth her salt can call herself a real English major if she hasn't read this book--and this book has been helpful. I was initially disappointed: the author doesn't spend much time unravelling Joyce's art and craft; mostly, he provides a summary of key action in each chapter. But as I've made my way through the book, I've realized that this service is more than enough; that this guide isn't meant as a work of lite...more
Jim Hale
Anyone who sets out to write a guide to Ulysses deserves credit, just for having the balls to do it! I chose Blamires to accompany my second reading of Joyce's masterpiece and it increased the pleasure ten-fold. Even the most unpleasant chapters were bearable with Blamires along for the ride. Especially interesting is that Blamires (who was a protege of CS Lewis) is better than any other Joyce critic in picking up on the Christian allusions, which are everywhere. Having read both major Joyce bio...more
S.c. Jensen
Essential reading for Ulysses virgins! This guide focuses mainly on Joyce's allegorical use of Homer's Odessey. But regardless of your particular interest in Joyce's symbolic enigmas, the NBE helps to provide some structure to those who feel lost and overwhelmed by the scope of his work. As a person who is not familiar with the nuances of the Judeo-Christian religions, this guide also helped me by pointing out many 'obvious' symbols that other guides gloss over. This book was a constant companio...more
This is an excellent and readable commentary on James Joyce’s Ulysses. It follows Ulysses chapter by chapter, explaining each chapter’s relationship to the Odyssey. Also, each chapter goes through the action and events of that chapter, explaining references to mythology, literature (there many to Shakespeare’s plays as well as other literature), politics, religion, the Bible, the cultural milieu of 1904 Dublin, etc. It also explains parodies, puns, plays on words, misquotes, imitation of the wri...more
I happened across a used edition of The Bloomsday Book and it motivated me to read through Ulysses a second time. My first time through I read it straight, mostly to just absorb the rhythm of the language, and while I thoroughly enjoyed some parts, I was completely lost in others. (The chapter Oxen of the Sun was just brutal.)

Reading Blamires' breakdown before I start a new chapter is making the book much more enjoyable. I find his summaries and analyses to be at just the right depth to allow m...more
If time and tenacity are on your side, then save this for your second reading of Ulysses - but if, like me, you want to get the most out of a single reading, this book is a tremendous help. I was apprehensive about coloring my initial reading with a scholar's personal theories, but Blamires does a good job of focusing on helping a first time reader. I read each chapter summary immediately before the chapter in Ulysses and any enjoyment I lost in being spoiled was more than made up for by having...more
I would recommend this as a guide to read along with Ulysses for those attempting to read it for the first time on their own. It is very succinct and helpful with explaining the major themes, symbols, connections with the odyssey, etc. Its (relative) brevity was good for me in getting through the novel, but because it's so succinct, (1) it is definitely nowhere near comprehensive (though it is hard to imagine how long a truly comprehensive account would be), and (2) when it discusses more nuance...more
This was a helpful companion to read along side of Ulysses. It gives a good summary of the chapters, which is helpful to the first time reader trying to navigate the labyrinth of Joyce's Dublin. It falls short on the interpretive front, addressing broad themes but not lending attention to some of the more intricate symbolisms, double entendres, and so on. Other resources do cover these pieces, and by not doing so does keep this text reasonably short at just over 200 pages. Reading only this text...more
Ginny Pennekamp
This is the be-all, end-all of Ulysses texts for our Skylight bookgroup, but... I find it to be too much summary and not enough interesting stuff. I mean, if I want to read what's happening, I'll read Ulysses... The Cliff Notes is all the summary I need, and this doesn't have the great annotations like the on-line Columbia text (, or the "insight" of the James Heffernan lectures.

I gather this book is really out of print. So... if you're tackling Ulysses, do...more
Jan C
Sep 20, 2011 Jan C rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Ulysses readers
This was just great! I doubt that I would ever have made it through Ulysses without the aid of this book and the group I read it with.

Kind of wish I had finished it before I had finished Ulysses because I apparently missed a lot in that last episode.

I was reading this last section and thinking "is that what was going on?"

I finished Ulysses in July or August and only my guide today. Oh, well.

I highly recommend it to Ulysses readers.
Jun 16, 2014 Kalliope marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary
To celebrate the day today, 16th June. I have just ordered this, and decided to read the novel this year.
This can be a helpful crib for an intimidated first-time reader of Ulysses. I'd recommend using it as a gloss for the first few chapters or so; by then you will have adjusted yourself somewhat to the demands of the novel and should be able to put away the guide. Don't rely on it all the way through your first reading of Ulysses unless you're not reading for pleasure.
This book provides an INVALUABLE assistance to reading Ulysses. In the later chapters, I'm not sure I could of maintained any sense of understanding without it at times. Please consider this book to be a requirement for at least your first tackling of Mt. Ulysses. Like safety ropes. You can always free-climb it later.
James Martin
An excellent guide, with fairly literal scene-by-scene summaries to keep you grounded if you're reading Joyce's big book for the first time or anytime w/o the benefit of a good professor. Blamires himself is an excellent critic, not just some hack with a knack for paraphrase.
A neccessary and helpful guide when you venture into the world of Ulysses- You both get background, interpretation and analysis, all of which enables you to at least seemingly comprehend the first couple of layers of Joyce's magnificent opus.
if only I'd had a copy of this book whan i was reading Ulysses some years ago, it would have so enhanced my enjoyment of what is still the most amazing book I have ever read. And to think this guide has been around for 45 years!
Mar 02, 2010 Patricia rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who chooses to struggle through the novel Ulysses. Good luck.
Shelves: non-fiction
Very helpful in deciphering the elusive plot of Ulysses. Even with the help of this book, I couldn't begin to understand all of the references to the Holy Trinity contained in the novel.
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