Though Kiberd neglects to point out that Ulysses instructs us in how to cook pork kidneys and fill out racing forms, he does insist that "this is a book with much to teach us about the world—advice on how to cope with grief; how to be frank about death in the age of its denial; how women have their own sexual desires and so also do men; how to walk and think at the same time; how the language of the body is often more eloquent than any words; how to tell a joke and how not to tell a joke; how to purge sexual relations of all notions of ownership; or how the way a person approaches food can explain who they really are."
Joyce himself claimed otherwise. In 1922 he complained to a fellow novelist, Djuna Barnes: "The pity is the public will demand and find a moral in my book—or worse they may take it in some more serious way, and on the honor of a gentleman, there is not one single serious line in it." Joyce was not entirely serious about that disclaimer, any more than Mark Twain was when he posted his famous warning at the beginning of Huckleberry Finn: "Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot." Nevertheless, such persons need to proceed with caution.