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.
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.
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.
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.