Perhaps the most important literary achievement of the 20th century, Ulysses is also one of the most challenging. This reference introduces beginning readers to Joyce and his novel, removes some of the obstacles readers face when confronting his text, provides background information to facilitate understanding of the nuances of the book, and illuminates the critical dialogue surrounding his work. With the help of this guide, beginning readers will discover the rewards of reading the novel and find that they outweigh the potential obstacles to understanding Ulysses. To introduce readers to Joyce and his work, the volume begins with a short biography and a survey of the importance and cultural impact of Ulysses. Most beginning readers find it difficult to follow Joyce's plot, and so they abandon the text in frustration. Thus the book includes the most detailed available plot summary of Joyce's novel. The chapters that follow overview the novel's publication history; its historical and cultural contexts, including Modernism, Irish literature and history, and political and social trends; major themes and issues; Joyce's narrative art, including his character development, language, images, and style; and the academic and critical response to the work. The volume closes with a bibliographical essay.