About the Notes
In notes on this site the first paragraph presents essential
contextual information and brief textual interpretation judged
most useful for a first-time reading of the novel. Clicking the
“Read More” button will pull up more in-depth information, more
detailed justification of interpretive points made at the
outset, reference to other passages in the novel, summary of
relevant scholarly arguments and observations, and/or
alternative ways of reading a passage. In addition to supplying
an abundance of commentary that a first-time reader may wish to
avoid, these later paragraphs will sometimes contain "spoilers"
by referring to things disclosed later in the novel.
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 that are in some way closely related. This
method differs from that of 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 Joyce Project is not simply a resource. It
offers to guide readers through the book.
Most notes quote generously from the passages they are
glossing, to save the reader from having to go back and forth
between note and novel. Usually, some of Joyce's text will be
presented in boldface type. This may prove especially helpful in
longer notes and notes keyed to several different passages in
the novel, allowing readers to quickly locate the words that
they clicked on. When notes are keyed to passages in different
chapters of the novel (as happens quite frequently), at least
one colored hyperlink will be supplied in the text of each
chapter, on the assumption that a user may be reading only that
chapter and may have forgotten something learned in an earlier
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 multi-directional navigation
of the labyrinth that Joyce constructed—whether to pursue
perfect comprehension, or to become happily lost, or simply to
seek the nearest exit, will be up the individual.
Authors ("JH" for John Hunt, others spelled out) and dates of posting are listed at the end of notes. Minor emendations are sometimes made without notification, but substantially revised notes receive new dates. When new material is tacked on to an existing note, a bracketed date—e.g., ""—indicates the start of the added text.