Bloomsday

Bloomsday

Bloomsday is a commemoration observed annually on 16 June in Dublin and elsewhere to celebrate the life of Irish writer James Joyce and relive the events in his novel Ulysses, all of which took place on the same day in Dublin in 1904. The name derives from Leopold Bloom, the protagonist of Ulysses, and 16 June was the date of Joyce's first outing with his wife-to-be, Nora Barnacle, when they walked to the Dublin village of Ringsend.

Bloomsday activities

The day involves a range of cultural activities including Ulysses readings and dramatisations, pub crawls and general merriment, much of it hosted by the James Joyce Centre in North Great George's Street. Enthusiasts often dress in Edwardian costume to celebrate Bloomsday, and retrace Bloom's route around Dublin via landmarks such as Davy Byrne's pub. Hard-core devotees have even been known to hold marathon readings of the entire novel, some lasting up to 36 hours. The first celebration took place in 1954, and a major five-month-long festival (ReJoyce Dublin 2004) took place in Dublin between 1 April and 31 August 2004. On the Sunday in 2004 before the 100th "anniversary" of the fictional events described in the book, 10,000 people in Dublin were treated to a free, open-air, full Irish breakfast on O'Connell Street consisting of sausages, rashers, toast, beans, and black and white puddings.

The Rosenbach Museum & Library, in Philadelphia, United States, is the home of the handwritten manuscript of Ulysses and celebrates Bloomsday with a street festival including readings, Irish music, and traditional Irish cuisine provided by local Irish-themed pubs.

The Syracuse James Joyce Club holds an annual Bloomsday celebration at Johnston's BallyBay Pub in Syracuse, New York, at which large portions of the book are either read aloud, or presented as dramatizations by costumed performers. The club awards scholarships and other prizes to students who have written essays on Joyce or fiction pertaining to his work. The city is home to Syracuse University, whose press has published or reprinted several volumes of Joyce studies.

In 2004 Vintage Publishers issued yes I said yes I will Yes: A Celebration of James Joyce, Ulysses, and 100 Years of Bloomsday, edited by Nola Tully. It is one of the few monographs that details the increasing popularity of Bloomsday. The book's title comes from the novel's famous last lines.

In Boston, MA, on the campus of Boston College, a celebration entitled, "Bloomsday Boston 2008: Love Across Boundaries" is planned. The event will include a James Joyce expert speaking on the many aspects of love in the novel including the relationship of Leopold and Molly Bloom, and readings from Ulysses that touch on these elemental forces. A highlight of the evening will be a conversation with notable Bostonians whose love lives extend across boundaries of all kinds. For details, go to http://www.ncacboston.org/present_exhibition.asp

Bloomsday has also been celebrated since 1994 in the Hungarian town of Szombathely, the fictional birthplace of Leopold Bloom's father, Virág Rudolf an emigrant Hungarian Jew. The event is usually centered around the Iseum, the remnants of an Isis temple from Roman times, and the Blum-mansion, commemorated to Joyce since 1997, at 40–41 Fő street, which used to be the property of an actual Jewish family called Blum. Hungarian author László Najmányi in his 2007 novel, The Mystery of the Blum-mansion (A Blum-ház rejtélye) describes the results of his research on the connection between Joyce and the Blum family.

There have been many Bloomsday events in Trieste, where the first part of Ulysses was written; a Joyce Museum was opened there on June 16, 2004. Since 2005 Bloomsday has been celebrated every year in Genoa, Italy, with a reading of Ulysses in Italian by volunteers (students, actors, teachers, scholars), starting at 9 A.M. and finishing in the early hours of June 17; the readings take place in 18 different places in the old town center, one for each chapter of the novel, and these places are selected for their resemblance to the original settings. Thus for example chapter 1 is read in a medieval tower, chapter 2 in a classroom of the Faculty of Languages, chapter 3 in a bookshop on the waterfront, chapter 9 in the University Library, and chapter 12 ("Cyclops") in an old pub. The Genoa Bloomsday is organized by the Faculty of Languages and the International Genoa Poetry Festival.

Popular culture references

In Mel Brooks' 1968 film The Producers, Gene Wilder's character is called Leo Bloom, an homage to Joyce's character. In the musical 2005 version, in the evening scene at the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park, Leo asks, "When will it be Bloom's day?". However, in the earlier scene in which Bloom first meets Max Bialystock, the office wall calendar shows that the current day is 16 June, indicating that it is, in fact, Bloomsday.

The movie Slacker features a character throwing their copy of Ulysses in a river, while another Richard Linklater movie, Before Sunrise takes place on June 16, Bloomsday, with the characters agreeing to meet back in Vienna, Austria in exactly 6 months.

In 1956 Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath were married by special licence of the archbishop of Canterbury at St George the Martyr's Church, Bloomsbury on 16 June, in honour of Bloomsday.

The comic strip Dork Tower referenced Bloomsday June 16, 2004.

Lilac Bloomsday Run

In Spokane, Washington, United States, an annual 12-kilometre race called the Lilac Bloomsday Run is held on the first Sunday of May. The inaugural Bloomsday road race took place on 1 May 1977, and the race is now one of the largest road races on the West Coast of the US. The connection with the Joycean Bloomsday is that, according to the event's founder, Don Kardong, a road race is an odyssey (like the one referred to in Ulysses) and ordinary people are involved in heroic journeys every day of their lives.

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