Bloomsday 2015

Cover: Ulysses by James JoyceToday is Bloomsday – 16 June. Back in 1904, James Joyce stepped out for the first time with Nora Barnacle, the woman who would become his wife. And in Ulysses, it is the day that Leopold Bloom kicks around Dublin.

The Guardian has a great article: Bloomsday: how fans around the world will be celebrating James Joyce’s Ulysses. Some people go as far in their celebrations as to indulge in the gastronomic horror  their hero Leopold Bloom partook of:

thick giblet soup, nutty gizzards, a stuffed roast heart, liverslices fried with crustcrumbs, fried hencods’ roes. Most of all he liked grilled mutton kidneys which gave to his palate a fine tang of faintly scented urine

Cool to see Auckland’s celebrations rate a mention.

I am determined to read Ulysses this year. Part of my desire to is connected to Kate Bush. I love her song The Sensual World.  It is all about Molly Bloom, and is one of the sexiest songs I know. Kate originally didn’t get the rights to use Joyce’s words as she intended, but later the Joyce Estate relented and she re-recorded the song as Flower of the Mountain. You can listen to it on her Director’s Cut album.

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.

So I am going to do a personal Bloomsday today, and walk to the library and pick up a copy of Ulysses. Yes.

More Bloomsdays

Bloomsday 2014 (Robyn)

James Joyce is an author I regard with equal amounts of admiration and guilt. Admiration? His statue in Dublin and the jaunty angle of his cigarette holder in photographs. And I love a man (or a woman) with an eye-patch. Guilt? Ulysses languishing on my list of books I know I should have read but haven’t.

____,____ ____ circus on ____, (Paul)

I am just a bit too young to have dressed up as a woman to go to the segregated screening of Ulysses. Have read some but never finished Ulysses. But for an insight into Joyce I like Roaratorio.

Roaratorio, an Irish circus on Finnegans Wake, a John Cage classic is available online.

Bloomsday 2009 (Marion)

Ulysses has been surrounded by controversy over the years – it was banned in America from 1921 until 1933. The 1967 film directed by Joseph Strick was controversial in part because of the use of the “f word” and in New Zealand was shown only to gender segregated audiences! (It’s all true folks – I was there as bright eyed varsity student). I seem to have survived unscathed and managed to read my way through both Ulysses and the slighter (in size), but no less linguistically challenging, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Ulysses weighs in at over 600 pages.

Cover of The most dangerous bookCover of The Years of Bloom Cover of Ulysses

____,____ ____ circus on ____,

So yesterday was Bloomsday. Like Robyn I struggle with reading Joyce. (Actually I just struggle with reading…).

I am just a bit too young to have dressed up as a woman to go to the segregated screening of Ulysses. Have read some but never finished Ulysses. But for an insight into Joyce I like Roaratorio.

Roaratorio, an Irish circus on Finnegans Wake, a John Cage classic is available online.

The piece is a realization of another Cage score, ____,____ ____ circus on ____, which consists of an instruction on how to translate any book into a performance. The book used for Roaratorio is Finnegans Wake by James Joyce, a long-time favorite of Cage’s.

Here I am with nothing to say. If one of you wants to go somewhere, go ahead and leave at any time. What we need is silence, but what silence needs is that I go on talking.

Take an hour of listening time. Roaratorio, an Irish circus on Finnegans Wake, a John Cage classic.

Bloomsday

James Joyce is an author I regard with equal amounts of admiration and guilt. Admiration? His statue in Cover: Ulysses by James JoyceDublin and the jaunty angle of his cigarette holder in photographs. And I love a man (or a woman) with an eye-patch.

Guilt? Ulysses languishing on my list of books I know I should have read but haven’t. Way back in March I added it to my list of challenges for the year, smug because I could use it for both Reading Bingo (Read a forgotten classic) and A Year in Reading (In June read that classic you have never read). I know calling it a forgotten classic is a bit of a stretch, but I’ve done my best to forget my dismal failure to read it in the sixth form. The words ‘the sixth form’ indicate how long ago it was.

Now it’s  June 16th, possibly the most famous date in literature, the date when all the action in Ulysses takes place. Some say June 16th 1904 was the day Joyce and his future wife, Nora Barnacle, had their first ‘romantic liaison’. For the last 50 years it’s been commemorated as Bloomsday.

In Dublin those who have read the book (and those who haven’t) walk the route Leopold Bloom walked. They dress up, eat up, read the book to themselves and others, attend learned lectures on the book, view art and listen to music inspired by the book and, most of all, they drink. It is Dublin after all.

Nothing quite so exciting for me. Drink on a Monday and the only way is down for the rest of the week. I draw the line at kidneys for breakfast. I could give the cat a bowl of milk in a Bloomsian way but as Ulysses sits accusingly on my bedside table the only way to commemorate Bloomsday is to read a decent number of pages .

“Why don’t you write books people read?” disloyal old Nora Barnacle asked Joyce. Will Ulysses be a book this person will read? All the way through to the very end? Perhaps.

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Bloomsday

June 16 is Bloomsday – a day when fans around the world celebrate the the life and works of Irish writer James Joyce, author of the novel Ulysses. The day is named after Leopold Bloom, a central character in Ulysses and the date on which all the events in the novel occur. June 16 was also the date of Joyce’s first outing with his future wife, Nora Barnacle. Love that name – it would fit a great character in a novel!

Ulysses has been surrounded by controversy over the years – it was banned in America from 1921 until 1933. The 1967 film directed by Joseph Strick was controversial in part because of the use of the “f word” and in New Zealand was shown only to gender segregated audiences! (It’s all true folks – I was there as bright eyed varsity student). I seem to have survived unscathed and managed to read my way through both Ulysses and the slighter (in size), but no less linguistically challenging, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Ulysses weighs in at over 600 pages.

The British Board of Film Classification also had problems with the film and demanded 29 cuts to remove the strong language and crude sexual references from Molly’s final soliloquy. Joseph Strick replaced all the offending footage with a blank screen and a high pitched shrieking sound. The Board relented and passed the film intact.

What makes Ulysses a challenge and a reward to read is the stream of consciousness style of writing and the richly complex language – puns, allusions, parodies – you have to keep your wits about you!

Joyce lived an interesting and peripatetic life in Europe and the library has a number of biographies and critical works.

Dublin is the centre of Bloomsday celebrations – in fact they stretch the day out to a week – find out more on the Dublin Tourism website.