James Joyce, Paris, 1926. Photo: Berenice Abbott

For literature lovers everywhere, today is Bloomsday. It is the day on which James Joyce’s (books by this author) Ulysses takes place, in 1904. Devotees will know it is named after the main character, Leopold Bloom, and Joyce chose this particular day for the action of the novel to commemorate the first date he had with his future wife, Nora Barnacle, an uneducated chambermaid from Galway whom he met for a stroll around Dublin. A few days earlier, Nora had stood him up for their scheduled date.

Today, Joyceans all over the world celebrate with staged readings of Ulysses. Dublin has a long tradition of hosting celebrities, politicians, and international diplomats to do these dramatized readings. In fact, in Dublin, Bloomsday is not just celebrated for a day — it’s a weeklong extravaganza. There are Ulysses walking tours, where a person can retrace the steps of the fictional Leopold Bloom, as well as literary-themed pub crawls, musical acts, and museum exhibits. There’s also an annual Messenger Biker Rally, where people dressed in Joyce-era clothing ride old bicycles along the route that Leopold Bloom would have walked, and there are large-scale Irish breakfasts and afternoon teas devoted to Ulysses devotees. I long to be among them.


by James Joyce


“O and the sea the sea crimson sometimes like fire and the glorious
sunsets and the
figtrees in the Alameda gardens yes and all the queer little streets and
pink and blue
and yellow houses and the rosegardens and the jessamine and
geraniums and
cactuses and Gibraltar as a girl where I was a Flower of the mountain yes
when I put
the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red
yes and how
he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as
another and
then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me
would I yes to
say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and
drew him
down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was
going like
mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.”


Excerpt, “Ulysses, ” by James Joyce.
Public domain


The Writer’s Almanac




~ by eaesthete on 06/16/09.

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