A cornerstone for early Modern literature published in 1922, the novel was a turning point for prose - stories didn't have to make sense or indeed be a story at all. Woolf, D.H Lawrence and Ezra Pound were all exploring themes outside of traditional linear story-telling, such as: time, the psyche, sex and death.

Joyce's Modern giant harks a style back to Chaucerian English which he peppers with slang. However, his far-out thinking was not exactly praised by his contemporaries, fellow writer Woolf condemned it ''an illiterate, underbred book.''

JamesJoyceSylviaBeach James Joyce (right)

So what exactly is the plot of this much-debated and much-loved/hated novel? The story takes place over one day, with the reader able to roughly ear mark each hour following the goings on of a group of academics living in Dublin, Joyce's birthplace.

The end of the novel - if the reader ever reaches it - delves into Molly Bloom's stream of consciousness. As her husband Leopold falls asleep beside her after requesting his wife to make him breakfast in bed the next morning, the thirty-something-year-old Molly allows her mind to wonder back to her youth. She recalls sexual encounters with such a vibrancy of language.

Master of the last lines, Joyce finishes the Modern epic with Molly's thoughts:  "I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another… then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes."

The poetry within Molly's prose wonderfully captures the inner conscience of a woman.

In 2009, a first edition copy of Joyce's novel sold for $337 800 at Manhattan bookshop Sunwise Turn. This was the highest price recorded for a 20th-century first edition novel.


Morton Subastas' sale this month on ending on January 24 features a 1929 French first edition of the novel. Bonne lecture! Check out more here.