James Joyce’s Ulysses inspires celebrations around the world on the anniversary of the day on which its action takes place – June 16, 1904, known as Bloomsday after its main character, Leopold Bloom. Nowhere is the day observed more elaborately than in Dublin, where the novel is set.
John Gross writes of the role of Dublin in Ulysses in an essay on Joyce in Literary Genius: 25 Classic Writers Who Define English and American Literature (Paul Dry Books, 2007), edited by Joseph Epstein www.pauldrybooks.com:
“The city itself is brought to life to an extraordinary degree. As piece of urban portraiture, there is nothing like it in English, apart from Dickens’s London. We are led through a maze of courtyards, lanes and quays, though pub and library, schoolroom and hospital, cemetery and brothel. Voices and faces, hoardings and headlines, birdcries and traffic sounds, are all noted. So are Reuben J. Dodd, solicitor, and the one-legged sailor skirting Rabaiotti’s ice-cream car, snuffling Nosey Flynn and bald Pat the waiter (“Bald deaf Pat brought quite flat pad ink. Pat set with ink pen quite flat pad”). Shopfronts slip past. We are in a city on the move, a city of criss-crossing routes and chance encounters. And it is rendered in an appropriately dynamic manner. The profusion of detail would pall, if everything were described from the same fixed neutral standpoint. But as it is, every scene has its own tone. Joyce’s prose registers the individual sensibility and the distinctive aura.”
Furthermore: One of the most ambitious Bloomsday celebrations in the U.S. takes place annually at the Rosenbach Museum and Library in Philadelphia, home of Joyce’s manuscript for Ulysses www.rosenbach.org/programs/bloomsday.html.
For a listing of Bloomsday events in Dublin, visit the sites for the James Joyce Centre www.jamesjoyce.ie and VisitDublin www.visitdublin.com/events/AllDublinEvents/Detail.aspx?id=235&mid=2740.
© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.