Aug 16, 09
Read in January, 1995
I remember so much more of Ulysses Annotated than I do of Ulysses that it's actually ridiculous (not that this is saying much, since I have a serious case of book amnesia when it comes to Ulysses, possibly because I was distracted the whole time by the annotations). For example: "French letter" was Irish slang at the time for condoms. "Pole-ax" is some kind of important verb that comes from Hamlet. I think. A "pard" -- contrary to my then-dictionary's definition, which had it as an abbreviated form of leopard -- is a mythical, fabulously colored animal of medieval lore, further details of which escape me but which had some delightful characteristics that fascinated me as a young woman. Um, yeah.... Okay, maybe I don't remember this stuff as well as I thought. But still: pretty much everything I ever knew about Parnell, Oliver Cromwell, the Strait of Gibraltar, and the Catholic Church was thanks to this book; everything I ever learned for a reasonable price about Classicism also came from this book. I really enjoyed it. Maybe it's not so essential anymore, now that we've got Wikipedia, but in those old-timey days it really was necessary. You can probably get a Ulysses Annotated application for your iphone by now. This book is likely obsolete in the form that I knew it, which is maybe good because as noted on here by other reviewers, flipping back and forth between these two big motherfuckers did get pretty annoying.
Anyway, I haven't read this in a long time, but I still do recommend it. I don't think I've ever read any other annotations, so I guess I can't responsibly compare it to anything else. This is one of the few books I borrowed and then bought for myself later on, because I just wanted to own it forever, just in case. I'm not a huge book buyer, so that's significant praise.
Oh, and please don't feel like you could only enjoy this book if you happen to be reading Ulysses. I'm sure there is something here for everyone, so don't let that deter you. You can leave it in the bathroom or car, to flip through at dull moments! Good source for trivia questions, and makes you look literate.