It’s possible to read this novel without the notes if:
a) You’ve read and are very familiar with the Greek epic Ulysses
b) You’re very familiar with Shakespeare (ie – you can recall and recognise individual lines)
c) You are familiar with Christian theology and the Latinisms of the mass
d) You are familiar with Irish politics of that period
Basically, you have to be very very well read. Otherwise nothing will make sense.
And just as I was getting very smug about having the best choice in my reference book with notations, I received a note from the library informing me that someone else had requested the book and so I needed to return it in four weeks. Meh!