Philip Terry – James Joyce, Ulysses (1922) 

My retrospective nomination for the Goldsmiths Prize would have to be Ulysses. Ulysses changed the stakes of the novel for ever, letting us see how extraordinary the everyday can be by plugging us straight into the minds of its characters, and using language in an electrifying way that only poets had dared to up till then. And it changed the way we think about structure and myth in novels in ways that still have repercussions today, not only in the novel itself, but in poetry, film and beyond. As Faulkner (a man who generally didn’t reckon very much of writers apart from himself and Shakespeare) said, Joyce was “electrocuted by the divine fire”. Without Joyce’s Ulysses we wouldn’t have Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom!,The Sound and the Fury or As I Lay Dying, we wouldn’t have Perec’s Life A User’s Manual, Walcott’s Omeros or the Coen brothers O Brother, Where Art Thou? With the possible exception of Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu, it is the greatest single event in the history of the modern novel, and its influence is still far from exhausted.

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