If you’re enrolled in Ulysses this fall, I strongly recommend that you read Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man this summer in preparation. Portrait is a bildungsroman of a character, Stephen Dedalus. Stephen will feature prominently in Ulysses. You don’t have to try and pre-read Ulysses and it might be better to leave Ulysses off until we can engage it together in the fall. But reading Portrait is essential. It doesn’t just contain the beginnings of Stephen, it contains the beginnings of themes of Ireland, religion, artistry, and much more which bloom in Ulysses. You might also find it worthwhile to read Homer’s Odyssey, as the epic tale of Ulysses (or Odysseus in the Greek) attempting to find his way home forms something of a background to the doings in the Ulysses novel.