Readers sometimes refer to Ulysses' eighteen unmarked chapters by numbers, but more often they use the handles that Joyce supplied in his two schemas: names of corresponding Homeric "episodes." Episode 1, "Telemachus," bears structural resemblances to certain early events in the Odyssey, and subsequent chapters continue this practice. Some scholars have been inclined to dismiss the correspondences as overblown and relatively unimportant, but in my view Joyce's text is engaged in a serious—though hardly straightforward—dialogue with Homer's. Ulysses evokes the Odyssey opportunistically, in ways that vary dramatically from chapter to chapter. The echoes are quirky, unsystematic, imaginative, and funny, but also deeply thought-provoking. Sometimes they are so exceedingly subtle that a century's worth of readings have failed to appreciate their extensiveness. In addition to offering brief introductions to the chapters, then, the headnotes on this website describe how they recast certain elements of Homer's story.

JH 2017

Cover of the 1922 first edition of Ulysses, which Joyce asked to be designed in blue and white to echo the Greek national flag.

Statue of Telemachus carved by Ludwig Cauer in 1890, displayed in a niche at the foot of the Trillertreppe in the old part of Saarbrücken, photographed by Anna16 in 2014. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Photograph of Joyce taken by C. P. Curran ca. 1904 and reproduced by Ellmann courtesy of Curran. Ellmann reports that Joyce, asked what he was thinking when Curran posed him, replied, "I was wondering would he lend me five shillings."