James Joyce, in his epic novel recreates Homer’s Odyssey. The book reveals many episodes in the life of an ordinary man in the streets of Dublin. The novel reverses the popular epic of Odyssey and finds parallel story in the life of the protagonist Leopold Bloom.
James Joyce narrates the many events that unfold in the life of Leopold, Molly as well as Stephen. The book is divided into three parts and 18 episodes. The novel is set in Dublin and Leopold is a middle-aged Jewish man who works as an advertising canvasser. His job requires him to travel across Dublin everyday. Molly is Bloom's adulterous wife who indulges in an extramarital affair.
Bloom's life is reminiscent of Ulysses's life whereas Stephen Dedalus and Molly Bloom's parallels the lives of Telemachus and Penelope respectively. Bloom begins his day with awareness of his wife, Molly's infidelity. As the day progresses, he meets Dedalus who is a young writer who is first seen in his earlier novel, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Dedalus and Bloom end up in a brothel where Dedalus gets involved in a fight. Finally, both of them travel back to Bloom's house where they end up talking for many hours.
Joyce experiments with many different literary forms in this novel. He employs many different techniques like phonic representation, stream-of-consciousness, mock-historical, and the epigrammatic narrations.
The book was originally written in episodes for The Little Review, an American Journal. It was first published in the novel form in Paris by Sylvia Beach in 1922. Highly controversial since the time of its publication, it has been hailed as a classic by many writers like Ernest Hemingway, W. B. Yeats, and T. S. Eliot.
The book has been adapted many times. Some of the popular adaptations include 1958 adaptation titled Ulysses in Nighttown with Zero Mostel in the lead. The 1982 version by Frank Delaney, the 1967 film by Joseph Strick and the 2003 movie Bloom is also popular. 16 June is celebrated as Bloomsday each year by James Joyce's fans.