I fear those big words which make us so unhappy.

History, Stephen said, is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.


It’s today and it rhymes with doomsday. It’s a special day for the truly ridiculous and hardcore literary nerds, fans of James Joyce’s classic novel, Ulysses. I’m one of those geeks so I find just a bit of silly enjoyment in this day, I’m not going to lie.

They name comes from the novel’s main character, Leopold Bloom, and June 16 is the day the novel is set on (it all takes place in one very long day). But the date also comes from…

Nora Barnacle, who was, and I love the way that Wikipedia words this, “the lover, companion, inspiration – and eventually – wife of author James Joyce.” An episode from her real life would inspire the epiphanic moment from “The Dead” and the date of their first romantic liaison with Joyce – June 16, 1904 – would be forever immortalized as Bloomsday.

I’ve talked about the novel before here on Counterforce, but mostly focused on my favorite section of the book, the last one, which is the infamous Molly Bloom soliloquy.

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.

from here.

The day is much more of a big deal in Dublin itself, where it is all out celebration (and I think we all know that the Irish hardly need a reason to celebrate, so when they actually have one… boy, watch out!) and a wide range of cultural activities, including readings and dramatizations. And, of course, pub crawls and and crazy fun merriment.

Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes actually got married on June 16, 1956 in special honor of Bloomsday.

Richard Linklater seems to have a special affinity for the day himself. a character in Slacker throws his copy of Ulysses into the river at one point and Before Sunrise is actually set on the date.

from here.

You can follow Bloomsday on twitter, of all places. Or, if you have just a little bit more patience, you can always enjoy Slowblogging Ulysses, a site devoted to sharing one word from the novel with you a day. It’s an ambitious little art project, and one that should take you well into the year 2741 if you’re planning on sticking around for a while. But you could always just go read it now if you so chose.

Thanks to Oh Grow Up and Elvira on tumblr for some of those heads ups.

Anyway, that’s enough out of me for a bit. I’m going to go find my copy of the book and do a little catching up over a Guinness or two. If you get the chance, feel free to join me.

from here.

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6 responses to “I fear those big words which make us so unhappy.

  1. No, start with Dubliners, move on to Portrait of the Artist as A Young Man, and then.. graduate. Get the annotated version.

  2. It’s the kind of book you read for fun, if your idea of fun is stark sexual mania and ridiculously complicated literature torture and you’ve got a bit of a thing for the works of Homer, but filtered through the skew of a drunken (I know that descriptor may be redundant) Irishman meandering through a city in one day, dealing with his own mortality, the fact that he may be a shit father, and the knowledge that his wife is more than definitely fucking a guy at home in their bed while he’s busy being self obsessed. It’s good stuff.

    But yeah, I’d probably start with Dubliners. I’m sure you can find “The Dead” online somewhere to read, but you need it in a good proper book, like, in your hands. Read it on a rainy road trip, naked in silk sheets, or in a chair by a fire.

  3. But Lollipop was a great point in that I sure as shit wouldn’t want to be in a class that does this book. I mean, that’d be fantastic, but nine times out of ten, the rest of the kids in your class are fucking morons, right? And this is not the kind of book where you have time for someone to talk slower in a discussion over.

  4. oh i’ve got a good year before any of those books would be assigned in class. dubliners it is! thanks!
    and yes, there’s something to be said about a book you can physically hold vs reading online. maybe that’s old fashioned. or maybe my kindle is just charging…..hah….

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