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June 16, 1904.

That is the day that the events take place in James Joyce's gift to modern literature, "Ulysses". The day Leopold Bloom spends in Dublin and we meet Molly Bloom and the others.


Marilyn Monroe reading "Ulysses"...Photograph by Eve Arnold

Hence, every June 16 is celebrated among the Irish and Literature nerds everywhere as Bloomsday. There are usually readings of the book...on the 100th anniversary I went to a marathon-reading of the ENTIRE book...all 265,000 words or so. It was open to all, and I got to read for an hour myself...my voice was nearly shot by the end of my slot.

Of course, there's usually copious amounts of Irish beer and food involved, and much Irish music and mirth.

This year is the 107th anniversary of Bloomsday.

There are several Bloomsday events happening in L.A., but I am going to the Hammer Museum's 2nd Annual Bloomsday, as I had such a blast at last year's. This year they are focusing on the Hoyce women...the women in the novel, the women who helped get Joyce published, and the women of his life and family.

I suppose it is my Irish DNA that predisposes me to like James Joyce, although I still find Finnigan's Wake near-imprenatrable. But Ulysses...that is another matter. I have always loved that book, and every time I begin to read it, I fall into its whorl of words willingly.

Like any great, or groundbreaking work, it has been banned many times. But you cannot keep Leo Bloom down...nor Molly, for that matter.

Here's an excellent reading by Marcella Riordan of the last part of Molly's soliloquy...

Happy Bloomsday!

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  • 1 year later...

Yeah, I know...this was the worst thread topic ever. Zero responses last year...zero interest.

But I'm Irish...or at least half-Irish, so I feel duty-bound to mention it again now that June 16 has come around again.

This year, however, there is something newsworthy about Bloomsday. It has now been 70 years since James Joyce passed away, and so the copyright on "Ulysses" has passed into the public domain.


Locally, here in L.A., I will be going to the Hammer Museum's annual Bloomsday bash: http://hammer.ucla.edu/programs/detail/program_id/1239

After I finish my Langer's #19 pastrami on rye, natch.

So crack open a copy of "Ulysses" for Molly's sake! And may your June 16th be as interesting as Leo and Molly Bloom's all those years ago.

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Ulysses is the only book I've ever given up on.

Props to my fellow MM, though. Ditsy as she may have been, she's evidently made it to the end. I always thought I had a high boredom threshold, but it looks like she had me beat.

Ah, "the ineluctable modality of the visible"...come again, guv?

Never read it but have 'read' Marilyn many times. :^) Even just saw her on an old Jack Benny show which was her first TV appearance in 1953. First time I've seen that pic of her too.

I gave up on Moby Dick. There's just too much info on whales and other stuff and I think he should have just stuck with the hunt for the whale. There must be an abridged version out there somewhere?

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Ulysses is the only book I've ever given up on.

Ah, "the ineluctable modality of the visible"...come again, guv?

Awww, as Kate Bush would say, "Don't give up".

Ok, MM...look at that Marilyn Monroe picture. Perhaps focus on her feet. Now read that phrase "the ineluctable modality of the visible".

Close your eyes and try to imagine those feet again. It's different somehow, yes? That's what Joyce was getting at...how the reality of something when you see it is inescapable. Your perception of what is real changes depending through which sense you are receiving it through: visual, touch, sound, smell, memory.

Or maybe not. That is the thing with Joyce...there's a possibility of different interpretations depending on the reader. He himself admitted to inserting all sorts of literary puzzles and enigmas in "Ulysses" to keep the scholars guessing for centuries.

It took me many many attempts before I could get through "Ulysses" in one go...and even then, there were still parts I had to read and re-read before I could move on. I thought chapter 14, "The Oxen of the Sun" would short-circuit my brain.

There's other James Joyce works I have yet to get to...and "Finnegan's Wake" is like my own personal Waterloo. One of these days, though...one of these days.

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