#Bloomsday and Things Joycean

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. Of course it’s mainly virtual this year, as it was last year.

I was toying with the idea of going into Dublin and wandering about some of the locations described in Ulysses, but I have too much work to do. Maybe next year.  Instead I thought I’d prepare dinner this evening in a style that Leopold Bloom would enjoy:

He liked thick giblet soup, nutty gizzards, a stuffed roast heart, liver slices fried with breadcrumbs, fried hen cod’s roe. Most of all he liked grilled mutton kidneys which gave his palate a fine tang of faintly scented urine.

Or perhaps not.

If you haven’t read Ulysses yet then you definitely 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 and it has a  real sense of place. It’s a wonderful book.

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

I’ve read Ulysses 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.

I did manage to read all of Finnegans Wake last summer which I think is quite a difficult read so I approached it by rationing myself to ten pages per day and going slowly, often reading it out loud. In many ways it’s really a more like a very long poem than a prose work. It is

Incidentally if you would like to limber up before making an attempt on either  Ulysses or Finnegans Wake 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.

5 Responses to “#Bloomsday and Things Joycean”

  1. I am one of many who think that the long story/novella “The Dead” at the end of Dubliners is one of greatest pieces of writing by anyone, anywhere, at any time, in any language.

    Joyce is associated very much with Ireland and is one of the best writers of English, yet spent most of his life on the Continent.

    When she first saw him, his future wife mistook him for a Swedish sailor.

  2. So you’re not celebrating Sussex Day?

    Juneteenth (June 19th) is now a national holiday in the USA, marking the end of slavery there.

  3. The reason Joyce chose 16 June is because it was the first date with his future wife.

    Also on 16 June: Valentina Tereshkova becomes the first woman in space, leading to the Latin/Italian name Valentina becoming popular in Slavic countries.

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