Today is Bloomsday! Get out and celebrate! What? You don’t know of Bloomsday?
Bloomsday is a commemoration observed annually on June 16th in Dublin and elsewhere to celebrate the life of Irish writer James Joyce and relive the events in his novel Ulysses, all of which took place on the same day in Dublin in 1904. Joyce chose the date because his first outing with his wife-to-be, Nora Barnacle happened on that day, when they walked to the Dublin urban village of Ringsend. The name derives from Leopold Bloom, the protagonist of Ulysses.
Of most of the people I know, I stand alone in my love for this book. As a matter of fact, I think I may stand alone in my love for James Joyce. Paralleling Odysseus by Homer, Joyce walks us through one day, June 16th, of the main character, Leopold Bloom, his wife, and his friend Stephen Dedalus (Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man.) Originally, and understandably so, published in serial form in 1918-1921 in the The Little Review, it was then published in its entirety in 1922. The serial version was put to a stop due to its profane nature, at with point it was compile and published as a whole.
I love this book because of what it does for literature–not only for its deep roots in Homer, but for the wholeness of the story. We often sit and discuss our days over dinner–at least Jason and I do, and we touch on the main points leaving out all of the details. Ulysses covers one interesting day in the life of Leopold Bloom completely, from the big events of the day to the minutia. It is real, and rough, and raw. It is about compassion, love, desire, and grief; about a need for family; about sex. It is about lives of the 3 central characters and how they intersect and intertwine, and effect them all. It is truly a novel about life and deserves to be celebrated.
So pour yourself a Guinness or a glass of whiskey and raise a glass to Mr. James Joyce and the novel Ulysses! To Mr. Joyce, Happy Bloomsday–and happy anniversary of your first date!
(P.S., you are going to need a few more pints of the black stuff to get you through it too, because at 512 pages, it is quite the work of fiction.)
P.S.S. In NYC today they are celebrating with Bloomsday on Broadway , which will be celebrating its own 30th anniversary of the James Joyce/Ulysses marathon at Symphony Space. If you are not in the NYC area, which I am not, you can watch a live stream on Facebook.