Some books are famous but unread – because they’re too big. Ulysses; War and Peace; Proust. These are exactly the tomes the Big Reads team eats for breakfast. We devour a few chapters per episode, with plenty of lively debate, social media input and guest contributions, all in a strictly non-academic style.

The Big Readers tackle the first three chapters of Joyce’s classic (Telemachus, Nestor and Proteus), meet Stephen Dedalus and send each other saucy tweets. With James Mansfield and N Quentin Woolf.

Big Reads Ulysses Episode 1 -
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This week saw the recording of episode 2 of Big Reads: Ulysses. After three chapters, we at last got to meet Leopold Bloom, and found ourselves, at the end of the recording, craving a nice kidney (relish optional).

Big Reads Ulysses Episode 2 -
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This week saw the recording of episode 2 of Big Reads: Ulysses. After three chapters, we at last got to meet Leopold Bloom, and found ourselves, at the end of the recording, craving a nice kidney (relish optional).

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Leopold Bloom works up a hunger, and the Big Readers welcome a listener to the show to discuss Aristotle, Shakespeare, the Irish cultural identity and the relevance of Ulysses in the 21st century. Chapters covered in this episode: Lestrygonians and Scylia and Charybdis.

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Wandering Rocks and Sirens are under discussion in this episode, as are musical forms, Irish history and ways of depicting cities. But cracks have started to appear in the team’s appreciation of Ulysses, and of Joyce in general.

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The Big Readers take on three chapters of Joyce’s masterpiece: Cyclolps, Nausicaa and Oxen of the Sun. It’s late afternoon on June 16th 1904, and Leopold Bloom moves from pub to beach to maternity ward, in a fireworks display of politics, romantic and sexual fantasies, and literary mimicry.

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Anything can appear in Nighttown, including talking animals, guilty hallucinations, fistfights, and sightings of ghosts. As the Big Readers tackle this most challenging of chapters, they ask whetherUlysses is merely art for art’s sake, discuss pantomime, Bosch and Dali, and investigate thematic links to Hamlet.

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Leopold and Stephen are heading home, but not without incident. A stop-off at a cabman’s shelter and a case of mistaken identity are followed by a session of Q&A at Bloom’s front door. The Big Readers are in the home straight.

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The Big Readers tackle one of the most famous chapters in literature: Penelope, the stream-of-consciousness reflections of Molly Bloom.

 

Ulysses expert Jeff Helgeson joins the team from Chicago for this final episode in the series, and helps reflect on the book as a whole.

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