One way to understand Declan Kiberd’s Ulysses and Us is as the story of an intelligent sophisticated reader, reading an intelligent and sophisticated book. Kiberd organizes his reading around daily actions that he believes are explored and celebrated in Ulysses; walking, eating, reading, ogling, teaching, etc, but his writing goes beyond a strict adherence to showing that episode X is devoted to mundane activity Y. He essentially allows us a look into his mind as he reads Ulysses; the mind of a Professor of Anglo-Irish Literature at the University College Dublin, of the author of Inventing Ireland: The Literature of the Modern Nation and Irish Classics, and of the editor of The Annotated Students’ Ulysses.
You don’t have to have read Ulysses to enjoy Ulysses and Us and though I always hope more people read Ulysses, Ulysses and Us is interesting even for those with no plans whatsoever to read Joyce’s masterpiece. Kiberd gives us a chance to borrow the brain of a critic and use it to read for a while.