Download RTÉ’s Superb Audio Production of James Joyce’s Ulysses

patch2James Joyce’s Ulysses might seem like a prohibitively difficult book, but it’s not as hard to read as its reputation suggests. There are any number of strategies for tackling the great tome (although enjoying or experiencing are more fitting verbs here), but one that many readers might overlook is listening to an audio recording.

I’ve tried a few audio versions of Ulysses, and none can hold a candle to RTÉ’s 1982 full cast production. I reviewed it a few years ago, and wrote:

I listened to, absorbed, choked up at, guffawed about, cackled around, and generally loved RTÉ’s 1982 dramatized, soundtracked, sound-effected, lovingly detailed recording of Ulysses, a work crammed with voices to match (if perhaps not equal) Joyce’s big fat work. This recording is not as widely available as LibriVox’s (free) full cast production or Jim Norton’s Naxos reading, but, after sampling both, I’d argue that it’s better. The Irish players bring sensitivity and humor to their roles, but beyond that pathos, the energy of RTÉ’s troupe is what really makes the book sing. Leopold Bloom gets his own voice, as does Stephen Dedalus and Molly (and all the characters). This innovation propels the narrative forward with dramatic power, and clarifies the oh-so indirectness of Joyce’s free indirect style, making the plot’s pitfalls and pratfalls more distinct and defined. There are songs (and dances) and music (and musing) and humming (and hemming and hawing and reverb). There is chanting and chawing and brouhaha. There is chaos and calamity and confusion. There is brilliance and peace and transcendence. It’s all very good, great, wonderful.

You can listen to and/or download the production here (big thanks to reader Eve for sending the link in!).

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2 comments

  1. igtard · January 23, 2013

    And the word became flesh.

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  2. randomkhaos · January 23, 2013

    I had downloaded the radio play and had ripped the audiobook version. I put them in an iPod and tried to integrate the chapters. I have been listening to them off and on for several months now as bedtime story to go to sleep to. I would awake before the pod shut down to various conversations and descriptions. Not paying any attention to whether the order made any sense or not, assuming from other peoples’ descriptions that that was irrelevant. After reading this blog, I checked the playlist on my computer to discover that iTunes had reversed the order of the play and then employed the ‘random’ parameter.

    Recently, I have been listening to the play in its natural order. I think that the work really comes alive with persona and background noises, and the internal dialogue voice makes Joyce’s masterpiece even greater. In the context of today’s culture, I can’t understand what all the furor was about. There are many more ‘scandalous’ works from the same period. Perhaps it was the mindset of the old ones that those uppity Irish were usurping the Mother Tongue of the English and well-bred Americans. Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’ is a wonderful work and it is too bad that a lot of people are put off from reading it because of the advance publicity it creates. I haven’t listened to either version from first word to last, but there is nothing confusing or ambiguous about the piece to me.

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