Happy Bloomsday!

Today is Bloomsday. A day to celebrate noted Irish writer, James Joyce. Why June 16th? It was on this date in 1904 that Joyce had his first date with his future wife. Joyce commemorated that event by setting his book, Ulysses, on that same date. I decided to commemorate the day by reading some of Ulysses. I started with “Hades,” which is chapter six in the book, having read the opening chapters earlier in the year. In this chapter, Leopold Bloom is attending Paddy Dingnam’s funeral resulting in his contemplating death and mortality. While not the cheeriest of themes for a pleasant summer day, it serves my purpose of exploring more of this amazing work.

If reading Ulysses is on your “bucket list,” as it has been on mine, you should just jump in. Ulysses takes a lot of reading and re-reading and with each exposure comes a deeper understanding of the plot and Joyce’s writing style. A guide such as Don Gifford’s Ulysses Annotated: Notes for James Joyce’s Ulysses (University of California Press, 1988) is a great help in understanding the references to Irish culture, Homer’s Odyssey, and more.

If you’d just like to sample a bit of the text in honor of this esteemed literary hero, I’d suggest reading the beginning of Calypso (chapter 4). This serves as the readers’ introduction to Leopold Bloom. Through Bloom’s interactions with his cat and musings about his wife, we, as readers, begin to have insights into his personality and life.

Regardless of where you start or how long you keep reading, there’s no better day to celebrate James Joyce than today!


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