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Eighteen chapters, six hundred and forty-four pages, a quarter of a million words, and seven years in the writing.  Over a hundred characters, more idioms, neologisms, and colloquialisms than you can count. Add plots, sub-plots, mini-plots, allusions, correspondences, every rhetorical device listed by Quintillian and then some, a potted history (by example) of the English language since the second century A.D. One single sentence containing 4,930 words. Read it in its Bulgarian, its Korean or Urdu translations, or even in its original English, Ulysses remains a demanding book.

Ulysses is not for the faint hearted.  

“I’ve put in so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant” claimed Joyce, gleefully, we must imagine.  

This project is intended to help you solve some of these puzzles.

WALKING ULYSSES is designed to represent, through an exploration of each of the senses, the experience of living in Dublin on a typical day around the turn of the twentieth century. Our map narrates the journey of Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom over the course of a single day, paralleling the progress of James Joyce’s Ulysses, traversing, chronologically, the eighteen chapters of the book. It’s designed to enhance the reader’s vicarious journey through the pages of Ulysses as mediated through the senses of its principal characters.

Our primary source is James Joyce’s minute description in Ulysses of one single day, June 16 1904, as experienced by his fictional characters, Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom. Documenting the journeys of these two men through the streets of Dublin across the expanse of that day, the project is designed to tabulate and elucidate the sensory inputs presented by Joyce. This project sets out to produce not merely a map or streetscape, but, in textual and visual form, a sensescape of Dublin at that time.

The backbone of the project is the map you now see. It traces the movements of Stephen and Bloom as they traverse Dublin from 8.00 in the morning until they retire early the following morning.

Our map records the fictional characters encountered, the streets traversed, and the notable buildings visited or passed, each variously represented by markers and drawings, each accompanied by pertinent lines of the text. To represent these features, we utilized the embedding of image and sound, and links to sites that open up for the reader a deeper appreciation of the text.  

The senses of smell and touch repeatedly invoked by Joyce to present the fullness of Dublin life, can be represented only textually. To accompany our production of the map, therefore, we have added our own glosses drawn entirely from contemporary sources.

Our final text, therefore, is designed to present the sensory perceptions encountered in Ulysses within their cultural meaning in Ireland at the turn of the twentieth century.

You can read more about the project in the Boston College Magazine article "Blooms Way" by Matthew Battle and the Chronicle of Higher Education article "This Bloomsday, Try Walking 'Ulysses' Instead of Reading It."


Professor Joseph Nugent

Department of English, in collaboration with Instructional Design and eTeaching Services

Boston College