Ulysses is/was an important book, in setting the scene for a lot of modern novels. It claims to be a novel, but it’s very hard to see how it could be. The characters and story are virtually nonexistent: what demands attention on every page is “the brilliance of James Joyce.” He has a tremendous vocabulary and a mastery of all the styles _ever written_ in the entire history of English, but somehow overlooks the whole point of the effort, which was (I think) to write a novel, not a catalog of parodies or a pastiche of Homer or whatever you want to term this fashionable mess. It got worse: his next book was Finnegans Wake, and the rule he “overlooked” in that treat of a book was that it needed to be _written in English_. That was too limiting for our Great Artist, so he wrote FW in any old language(s) he felt like.
I have an MA in English and I have worked as an English teacher. In my honest opinion, Ulysses and Finnegans Wake are not necessary to read. They are not novels. They’re SOMETHING, I grant you. They’re very hard to read, and all that. You can really get snobbish about having read them.
Frankly, I’ll take Gone With The Wind. (Gasp!!)
Source: A Customer. Amazon.