About the Notes
In every note on this site the first paragraph presents the
most basic, essential information required for a first reading
of the novel. Clicking the “Read More” button will pull up
various kinds of further commentary: more in-depth information;
other passages in the novel that have a close connection with
the one being glossed; books, articles, theses, dissertations,
and websites that comment upon the matter at hand; alternative
ways of reading a passage. Sometimes these later paragraphs will
contain "spoilers" that a first-time reader may wish to avoid.
The notes seek to aid the reader of Ulysses in several different ways: supplying necessary background information about matters referenced in the narrative; indicating ways in which this information may shape one’s reading of a passage; and directing the reader to other passages in Ulysses where similar concerns are raised. This method differs from annotators like Thornton, Gifford, Johnson, and Slote (see Sources), who for the most part confine themselves to the objective presentation of background information, without presuming to tell the reader how to use that information.
The notes do not attempt any global interpretations or readings of the novel; they simply elucidate specific hyperlinked passages. But by pointing out connections to other passages, and sending the reader to other notes through additional hyperlinks, they may assist such readings. Nearly every detail in Ulysses has relevance, not only to details immediately before and after it in the order of the narrative, but also to ones that may lie hundreds of pages off. The notes supply threads to begin navigating the textual labyrinth that Joyce built—whether to find the way toward perfect comprehension, or to become happily lost, or simply to seek the nearest exit, will be up the individual.
Some notes will grow in the course of time. Minor emendations
may be made without changing the date of composition at the
bottom of the note, but when substantial new material is added,
a bracketed date—e.g., —will precede the new paragraphs.