About the Notes

In every note on this site the first paragraph presents essential information judged helpful 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. 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 for each chapter, on the assumption that a user may be reading only that chapter and may have forgotten something learned in an earlier one.

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.

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., [2018]—will precede the new paragraphs.