Bloomsday 2012



Today, June 16, is Bloomsday. As all lovers of James Joyce know, it is on June 16, 1904 that all of the momentous and mundane activity in the novel “Ulysses” takes place: the hero, Leopold Bloom, wanders aimlessly/purposefully around Dublin; his wife Molly does God knows what with Blazes Boylan; the young Stephen Dedalus teaches school, and does his own bit of wandering, and ends up in Nighttown with Bloom, and the two of them go home together.




It’s a whopping good novel, if you haven’t read it. It’s a little threatening at first – really big, a little menacing – but it’s hysterically funny. My high-school librarian, Catherine Schwarz, gave me an old hardback copy back in the early 1970s, which I still have. I poked and pecked at it for some time, until I came to the Nighttown episode, which is written as a kind of surreal drama. When I encountered Mananann Mac Lir, the Gaelic sea god, intoning: “Aum! Baum! Pyjaum! I am the light of the homestead, I am the dreamery creamery butter” – well, I decided I liked it very much.



When Partner and I were in Ireland some years ago, one of the few things I bought for myself was a nice paperback copy of the original text of “Ulysses,” including all of the original typographical errors. It makes a nice companion piece to my old hardback copy. And it’s from Ireland.



Joyceans celebrate Bloomsday in all kinds of ways. The NY Times has a blog about it: readings, articles. My friend Bill, who has published an excellent book of texts derived from Joyce (go see it on Keyhole Press: it’s called “Unknown Arts”), just put up a text on Fictionaut which collects all Andy Warhol’s diary entries dated June 16. It’s creepily appropriate for the day.



Speaking for myself, as a very amateur Joycean, I will probably have a drink tomorrow (which I would probably have anyway, but of which I’m sure James Joyce would approve), and maybe take a quick glance at “Finnegans Wake,” Joyce’s later novel, which I will never really finish, but maybe someday, when I’m in my nineties.



And then I will thank Our Lord and Savior, on behalf of scholars and writers and critics, that most of Joyce’s work is no longer under copyright.



Then (maybe) another drink.



Oh yes I said yes I will Yes.


About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to

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