James Joyce was born in Dublin on February 2, 1882. James Joyce was an Irish, modernist writer and poet who wrote in a ground-breaking style that was known both for its complexity and explicit content. He is now known as one of the most influential authors of the 20th century. In 1904 he met Nora Barnacle became his lifelong companion and he used the date of their first date as the day on which Joyce’s Ulysses, would be set, June 16, 1904. The name of the novel comes from Homer’s Odyssey (in Latin Ulysses) and even with the title itself we start to acknowledge the connection between the two.
Ulysses, a reconstruction of Homer’s epic The Odyssey, was James Joyce’s first epic-length novel. He had already published a collection of short stories named Dubliners, Exiles and poetry, Finnegans, as well as A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, whose character Stephen Dedalus, appears again in Ulysses. Ulysses is still considered to be the greatest of Joyce’s literary works as the novel was written over the span of several years, during which Joyce continued to live, work and travel with his family around Europe.
Even though with Ulysses Joyce perfected his stream-of-consciousness style and became a literary icon the novel was banned from both the United Kingdom as well as the United States for obscenity. It was not until 1934 that permission was granted to print and distribute Joyce’s Ulysses in the United States and two years later, the novel was legalized in Britain. With the novel Joyce wanted to give a detailed picture of Dublin, but after so many years have passed only few of the landmarks may be found such as the Martello tower (now a Joyce museum) and the Davy Byrne’s pub.
Intertextuality is a correspondence of a literary text to any other literary one in structure, themes, imagery and so forth. Intertextuality in Ulysses refers to the connection which is found between Joyce`s novel and the ancient work of Homer, the Odyssey. (Graham, 2011)
The Odyssey, written by Homer near the end of the eight century BC is a sequel to Homer’s Iliad whose main character is Odysseus (Ulysses in Roman myths) and it centers on his journey from Troy to his home in Ithaca, and while Ulysses’ journey lasts ten years, in Joyce’s novel the journey lasts only eighteen and a half hours.
Ulysses is divided into three main parts with eighteen episodes altogether. Each of the eighteen episodes of Ulysses corresponds to a different adventure from the Odyssey, and each character in Ulysses seems to have its own clone in the Odyssey. The three big correlations are considered to be, Leopold Bloom to Ulysses but only not as a hero but as a ordinary man, Stephen Dedalus to Ulysses’ son Telemachus just not as protective nor loving, and Molly to Ulysses’ wife Penelope, only not as in love with her husband and with many problems in their relationship. Also, in the episode Circle the similarity is found between Bloom’s potato and Ulysses talisman that keeps him from falling under the witches spell. In the chapter Hades where Bloom goes to Dignam’s funeral we can draw the parallel with Ulysses’ visit to the Hades, the land of the dead. The similarity can be found between W.B.Murphy who sails around the world and Ulysses who before returning home sailed many seas.
There are also Biblical parallels, but they have a somewhat different status; the characters themselves are unaware of the similarities between their own lives and those of the characters in The Odyssey, but they frequently invoke the Bible to explain their circumstances.
The differences between the modernist novel Ulysses and the ancient Odyssey refer mainly to settings, while in Homer`s verses the setting in not very specific, in Ulysses the whole action is set in Dublin, a boring gray city.
In conclusion, it is very apparent that Ulysses reflects Homer’s Odyssey. The plot of Ulysses and Odyssey shows life as a journey. Joyce used Odyssey’s structure as the foundation for his novel. By naming his novel Ulysses, Joyce wanted to show that not only heroes can do heroic acts but also ordinary people in their everyday life, demonstrating that all people are worthy to be written about. The structure and the events resemble.