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Leopold Bloom Lives On

Jun 16 2005 04:35 PM

I'll be going to a local pub after work named for Joyce, one of Queens best known Irish Pubs was called Bloom's, it burnt down last year though.

]June 16 has been immortalized by lovers of James Joyce’s Ulysses everywhere as “Bloomsday” and has become an annual day of pilgrimage and celebration.

Ulysses is the epic hour-by-hour account of one day in Dublin – June 16, 1904. In the novel, the hero, Leopold Bloom – an ordinary Dubliner – is a modern-day Odysseus wandering through the urban landscape which is alternately charming, beguiling, stultifying and oppressive. Joyce himself said that in Ulysses it was his intention “to give a picture of Dublin so complete that if the city suddenly disappeared from the earth it could be reconstructed out of my book.”

In many countries around the world, Joycean scholars, as well as the not so scholarly, come together to celebrate the life and works of Joyce in a variety of ways. Dublin itself, of course, can probably claim the most exuberant celebrations. Every year, fans of Joyce get together for a reenactment of Leopold Bloom’s day. The extra-hardy start at six a.m. for a breakfast of coddle (bacon, sausages, potatoes and onions simmered together) at the Martello Tower in Sandycove followed by a splash in the “snotgreen, scrotumtightening sea” at the Forty Foot bathing spot (yes, even in June the scrotumtightening properties of the waters of the Irish Sea have a particular resonance). A second breakfast can be enjoyed at the more civilized hour of eight a.m. at the James Joyce Centre on Dublin’s North Great George’s Street to the accompaniment of readings from Ulysses. Throughout the day, there are opportunities to follow Bloom’s movement and itinerary so that at lunchtime it is possible to stop off for a glass of burgundy and a Gorgonzola sandwich in Davy Byrne’s pub off Grafton Street, and in the afternoon a pint of Guinness in the Ormond Hotel is customary.

All day long, celebrations feature readings of Ulysses, James Joyce lookalike contests, various semi-literary activities and many other opportunities to enjoy a pint or two of Guinness. Such events are not confined to Dublin. Many Joyce societies worldwide are gearing up for extra-special celebrations in 2004, the centenary of the first Bloomsday.

In the United States, many institutions are holding their own events in honor of Joyce. The Rosenbach Museum and Library in Philaladelphia will hold an exhibition from May 1 to August 11 entitled “Ulysses in Hand: The Rosenbach Manuscript.” The Rosenbach Manuscript is a complete handwritten draft of Ulysses; pages containing some of the most memorable passages from the novel will be on display. Differing from the published version, the manuscript is considered highly significant in its own right. The exhibition will be the first major one to take place in the museum’s newest galleries at 2008 Delancey Place and will be accompanied by a variety of related programs. Greg Giovanni will host “Bloom’s Fork Cabaret” featuring songs from Ulysses, and there will be performances of The Potable Joyce, a theater piece, using music and shadow puppets emphasizing the hero story at the core of Ulysses and designed for all the family to enjoy. There will also be a “Circa 1904 Walking Tour” in which Poor Richard’s Walking Tours will recreate1904 Philadelphia as Joyce might have done, and on Bloomsday itself there will be an annual outdoor reading of Ulysses by over 70 notable Philadelphians. The Rosenbach Museum is planning an extra-special program for 2004, details of which have yet to be finalized.

The University of Buffalo has amassed one of the largest and most distinguished collection of Joycean artifacts, with holdings that now include all of the notes and manuscripts of Finnegans Wake and many notes and documents relating to Ulysses. The university is undertaking the digital transcription of Joyce’s notebooks and manuscripts and hopes to have the task completed for the centenary celebrations.

Willets Point
Jun 17 2005 05:37 PM

Anyone actually read Ulysses.

Jun 17 2005 05:44 PM

D-Dad has. Once he has a second or two to breathe, I'm sure that he'll chime in.

Jun 17 2005 07:46 PM

Had fun at the James Joyce Pub, they had readings of Ulysses and people dressed as Joyce and Nora Barnacle, I've read Ulysses but it was a long time ago, had fun at the Pub though, and of course Joyce is every where once you step inside the Bar.

Bret Sabermetric
Jun 19 2005 03:34 PM

I've taught it, but I haven't read it.

Actually, Willetts Point and I had a beer (he had a beer, I had the cider) on Stone Street in extremely lower Manhattan at a bar called Ulysses last month.

Willets Point
Jun 19 2005 04:50 PM

="Bret Sabermetric"]I've taught it, but I haven't read it.

That's pretty funny.

I've read Dubliners, Portrait of the Artist, and 1/4 of Finnegan's Wake but not yet attempted Ulysses.

Jun 19 2005 04:57 PM

I read Portrait of the Artist in high school, and absolutely hated it.

I've had no desire to ever again read Joyce.

Edgy DC
Jun 19 2005 04:58 PM

Finnegan's Wake from where I sit, makes Ulysses look like One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.

Jun 20 2005 07:16 AM

I started The Dubliners last night

Jun 20 2005 08:53 AM

Scarlet - I had the same experience with "Portrait" in high school.

But that shouldn't stop you from reading "Dubliners."

Edgy DC
Jun 20 2005 09:19 AM

"Ivy Day in the Committee Room" doesn't tend to make a lot of sense without a lot of context thrown in, but Dubliners is worth it.

My former roommate used to teach "Eveline" to his ESL students.

Jun 20 2005 09:27 AM

I had no idea this book was so interesting. I have probably had it for 15 years

Jun 20 2005 09:39 AM

Edgy DC wrote:
Finnegan's Wake from where I sit, makes Ulysses look like One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.

Don't be hatin' on the Doctor.

Edgy DC
Jun 20 2005 09:56 AM

Love the doctor.

Jun 20 2005 10:02 AM

In my life, I have found two Dr. Suess books. One laying along the street, the other in the hallway at school.

Kept them both, too.

Jun 20 2005 11:18 AM

I've recently taught "Grace" and "Araby."

Jun 22 2005 10:20 AM

metirish, I am almost through with The Dubliners (boo, I am loving it) and I tried a couple of Chamber Musics last night, but I just wasn't into poetry.

Next up is Portrait of the Artist

Jun 22 2005 10:27 AM

Noooo cooby - don't do it!

Diamond Dad
Jun 22 2005 10:33 AM
Joyce in moderation

Like most things, you have to take Joyce in moderation, and in context. In his day, the stuff was pushing the literary envelope as far as anyone had ever gone. Ulysses was banned in most countries. At Columbia, Lionel Trilling had one copy bound in oak and chained and padlocked to a podium in the library, where his students could go and read it. By today's standards, it's pretty tame. But, unfortunately still very hard to read.

The Wake is even worse -- particularly if you don't have a good guide. Even with one of the best teaching professors in history showing me the way, I found it difficult to figure out.

Break it up with something lighter -- too much Joyce can kill you!

Jun 22 2005 10:34 AM

If I read it standing in my swimming pool, on a hot day, I can take it

Edgy DC
Jun 22 2005 10:39 AM

Charlene has a great copy of Ulysses put out by the only publisher willing to carry it in the US, a porn publisher, printed on pulp with ads for sex toys in the back.

Of course, it may scatalogical, but I would guess it's hard to get off on it if you were of a mind to. I can imagine the frustration of the publisher's readership.

Jun 22 2005 10:39 AM

The mental image of cooby reading James Joyce while standing in her swimming pool is sending me into giggle fits.

Edgy - I bet that D-Dad would enjoy seeing that book when we're in DC next month.

Jun 22 2005 10:41 AM

If you think that sounds funny, picture my daughter standing right beside me reading her Cosmo

Jun 22 2005 10:47 AM

If it was me, I'd opt to sit on the chaise lounge next to the pool, sipping a cool drink while I read.

But that's just me.

Willets Point
Jun 22 2005 11:18 AM

I thought the part of Finnegan's Wake I read was pretty funny, I just didn't have time to finish it. One day I will have time to read more, one day. And unlike Burgess Meredith's character on "The Twilight Zone" I don't need reading glasses.

Edgy DC
Jun 22 2005 11:33 AM

On Joyce and Meredih:

According to Malachy McCourt, writing his own myth in A Monk Swimming, Burgess Meredtih once walked onto the set of The Tonight Show to publickly offer him the role of stately plump Buck Mulligan in the stage production of Ulysses Meredith was directing.

McCourt goes onto say that the New York press lauded his performance, except for the paper owned by Carol O'Connor's family, in a review apparently written by O'Connor himself, because he was originally supposed to get the role.

O'Connor's obituary, though, recorded him performing in a well received New York production of Ulysses, directed by Burgess Meredith. The truth, I guess, is out there.