Bloomsday!

So it’s 16th June, a very special day in Ireland – and especially Dublin – because 16th June 1904 is the date on which the story takes place of Ulysses by James Joyce. Bloomsday – named after the character Leopold Bloom – is an annual celebration not only of all things Joycean but also of Ireland’s wider cultural and literary heritage.

If you haven’t read Ulysses yet then you should. It’s one of the great works of modern literature. And don’t let people put you off by telling you that it’s a difficult read. It really isn’t. It’s a long read that’s for sure -it’s over 900 pages – but the writing is full of colour and energy. It’s a wonderful book.

(There’s also quite a lot of sex in it….)

I’ve read it twice, once when I was a teenager and once when I was in my thirties. I then lent my copy to someone and never got it back. The copy shown above is a new one I bought last year with the intention of reading the novel again now that I live in Ireland but I sadly have not had the time yet. I will, though.

Incidentally if you would like to limber up before making an attempt on Ulysses I recommend this set of short stories.

But if you don’t fancy reading it you can listen to an epic 29 hour dramatisation of Ulysses on the radio via RTÉ; see here for details.

13 Responses to “Bloomsday!”

  1. Phillip Helbig Says:

    While Ulysses isn’t the difficult, Finnegan’s Wake is, even more so if one wants to understand all of Joyce’s references.

    I agree about Dubliners. The novella at the end, “The Dead”, all of it, but especially the ending, is probably some of the best writing ever, certainly some of the best writing in English (by someone from Ireland who spent most of his life on the Continent).
    As far as I know, Joyce never made enough money from writing to support himself; when he did write full time (as opposed to teaching English, his other main job), it was because of stipends from patrons.

    • telescoper Says:

      Finnegans Wake (sic) is difficult but I think it helps to approach it as a long poem – the sound and rhythm is a big part of that.

      • Phillip Helbig Says:

        Right, no apostrophe.

        Even the title is at leat a triple pun. The book itself has many multilingual puns which most readers probably miss.

      • telescoper Says:

        “Puns are the highest form of literature.” – Alfred Hitchcock.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        Yes, I was told by an Irish friend that the secret is to imagine it spoken. I can see that, actually, but I’d rather read his Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. (And I’ll stick to Homer’s Ulysses!)

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        Joyce invented quarks.

      • telescoper Says:

        What’s the connection between quarks and Wagner?

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        I’m not aware that any descendant of Wagner was involved with the quark model or its verification and I can’t think of any other factual or witty answer, so do say.

        The only other book I know with a triple meaning in its title was the first edition of Alan Hodges’ fine biography “Alan Turing: The Enigma of Intelligence”, which the publishers subsequently and regrettably cut down to “Alan Turing: The Enigma”.

      • telescoper Says:

        The phrase `three quarks for Muster Mark!’ from Finnegans Wake is well known as the origin of the use of `quark’ in particle physics…

        ….what is less well known is that the `Muster Mark’ in that quote refers to King Mark of Cornwall, the uncle of Tristan in the legend on which Wagner based his Opera Tristan und Isolde.

        (In that legend, Isolde or Iseult is an Irish princess.)

        There is a reference a few lines down in the same passage of Finnegans Wake to “Trustram with Usolde’..

      • Phillip Helbig Says:

        The front- and back-cover art of the album Moving Pictures is a triple pun.

      • Phillip Helbig Says:

        “What’s the connection between quarks and Wagner?”

        https://www.gefluegelhof-wagner.de/produkte.html

  2. david trayner Says:

    YES – for anyone wanting a wonderful exegesis get the late Frank Delany’s Re: Joyce podcast, he goes through it line by line, Frank sadly died after episode 368, his reading of Joyce, his humour and erudition are perfect. Follow the podcasts in the book itself. YES.

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