Ulysses from Beginning to End


James Joyce (1882–1941)
Ulysses, manuscript of the last page of the “Penelope” episode
Paris, 1921
Courtesy of the Poetry Collection of the University Libraries, University at Buffalo, the State University of New York
© The Estate of James Joyce.


Ulysses begins with the word “stately.” In other words, a word with s, and y, and it finishes with “Yes,” in other words, a word with y, and s. And it is as though the letter s as beginning and ending the book is a sort of curl, or a way of beginning again, and the y with its with its two arms, as it were, up in the air. So that there's a sense that the book curves around itself that as it begins, it ends, and as it ends it begins. And this is part of I think the overall design of the book. I think you can never read too much into the book, that is the sense of every word is a key to another word, or even the way letters are made or even the way the pages are laid out, that all of it is part of a grand design.