What is Bloomsday?
Let’s call it a literary Holy Day.
Well it is certainly is to me – and thousands of others. It’s also one of my favourite days of the year. Right up there with Xmas, Halloween and tax rebate day.
For those that do not know, Bloomsday is the the annual celebration of James Joyce’s novel Ulysses. The book details an epic day in the life of Leopold Bloom, in the 24-hour span of June 16, 1904.
June 16, 1094 was also the day that Joyce met his lover, companion and eventually (they married in 1931), his wife, Nora Barnacle.
Ulysses is my favourite book.
How much do I love Ulysses? If I had a bible, this would be it. I even tried to find a passage to read at my wedding but couldn’t find anything appropriate. I really shouldn’t have been surprised by that, actually.
Ulysses changed my life.
So your humble blogger celebrates Bloomsday annually. That is I REALLY celebrate Bloomsday. I get up early for a morning celebration on the Toronto beaches, I go to readings at libraries, attend musical celebrations and ‘hooleys’. I even dress up like James Joyce circa 1904.
Don’t believe me?
And I’m not even embarrassed!
So this year to celebrate Bloomsday (besides the usual events) I also tweeted (and Facebooked) the timeline and summary for the book chapters, starting at 8am and ending early tomorrow morning (when the book ends).
Most folks on Twitter and Facebook had no idea what I was talking about… but what the hell. I was having fun.
And here are my Bloomsday Facebook status updates.
You can also use them to pretend that you actually read Ulysses if by change you are ever asked. Though your humble blogger is still waiting for someone to ask him…
8:00am Stephen Dedalus is at Martello tower. Leopold Bloom is in his house at 7 Eccles Street, Dublin. It’s breakfast time.
9:45am Stephen giving a history lesson in the classroom, Summerfield, Dalkey Ave. (“History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake”) while Mr. Bloom walks soberly through Dublin (post office, chemist, church and the public baths).
11:00am The ineluctable modality of the visible. Stephen strolling on Sandymount Strand and the beach. Bloom at Paddy Dignam’s house on Newbridge Ave, Sandymount and then en route to Glasnevin Cemetary for Dingnam’s funeral.
12:00 noon Bloom enters Freeman’s Journal (newspaper) office on, Prince’s Street to work on his newest advertising assignment. Stephen arrives and tells ‘Parable of the Plums’.
1:00pm On his way to the National Library, Bloom visits Graham Lemon’s sweetshop, on O’Connell Street, Burton’s Restaruant (but disgusted by the clientele he leaves) and finally Davy Byrne’s pub on Duke Street. Bloom has a gorgonzola sandwich and a glass of burgundy for lunch.
2:00pm The National Library, Kildare Street. Stephen discusses his theories of Shakespeare. Bloom enters (after having been at National Gallery across the street) and walks past Stephen. They will not formally ‘meet’ until after 10:00pm.
Between 2:30 and 4:00pm 19 short vignettes depict the adventures of various characters, major and minor, through the streets of Dublin.
4:00pm Bloom enters the Ormond Hotel on Ormond Quay. Seated in the restaurant, he can only hear what is going on in the bar. Blazes Boylan enters and discusses his meeting at 4:00pm with Bloom’s wife, Molly. This (Sirens) is my favourite chapter.
5:00pm While his wife is having an illicit meeting with Blazes Boylan in his home at 7 Eccles Street, Bloom enters Barney Kiernan’s Pub on Little Britain Street and meets a rabid Irish Nationalist called ‘the Citizen’.
8:00pm Walking along Sandymount Strand, Blooms sees some young people on the sand. One in the group, Gerty MacDowell sees Bloom (still dressed in black from Dignam’s funeral) and noticing him aroused, displays her garters as Bloom… The chapter ends with the clock striking nine.
10:00pm Bloom walks to Street Maternity Hospital to see Mina Purefoy (who has been in labour for 3 days) and finds Stephen Dedalus drinking absinth with other rowdy men. Worried about Stephen’s safety, after he leaves the hospital Bloom follows Stephen to ‘Baudyville’.
11:15pm Bloom hallucinates has he walks through Nighttown, the red-light district of Dublin, to Bella Cohen’s brothel. After leaving the brothel, a drunken Stephen, deserted by his friends, is assaulted by an English soldier on Tyrone Street. Bloom comes to his Stephen’s aid and directs him toward shelter.
12:40am Bloom takes Stephen to The Cabman’s Shelter, a coffeehouse, at Butt Bridge. Bloom attempts to play the role of intellectual but Stephen, finally sobering up, does not seem particularity interested. Both seem to have been irrevocably changed after their wanderings on June 16.
2:00am Bloom returns to 7 Eccles Street (kitchen) with Stephen. They have a cup of cocoa and converse before Stephen declines Bloom’s offer to stay the night. He leaves but does not know where to go since he was locked out of Martello and won’t return to his father’s house. Bloom looks at the stars and contemplates his future before entering his house.
3:00 or 4:00am Bloom climbs into bed with Molly at 7 Eccles Street (bed) and kisses her ‘rump’. Half asleep, Molly’s thoughts move between the distant and recent past, thinking of her childhood, her husband, her affair with Boylan, her children and her marriage. Joyce gives the the last words of Ulysses to Molly Bloom: “yes I said yes I will Yes.”
Yes, read Ulysses.
And happy Bloomsday!
Jeffrey, The Gay Groom