Posts Tagged ‘odysseus’


June 16, 2011

June 16 is Bloomsday – celebrating James Joyce’s classic work, Ulysses

The events of Ulysses follow the novel’s protagonist, Leopold Bloom, throughout his travels around Dublin on June 16 1904. Since 1954 fans of Ulysses have recreated this day, complete with period dress, readings of the novel (sometimes taking up to 36 hours to complete) and other activities to celebrate Joyce’s homage to Dublin.

I will be the first to admit that Ulysses is not an easy book to read. Yet the sense of achievement once completed is well worth the effort. Joyce’s style is complex, rich and confronting. The novel starts the morning with Stephen Dedalus atop a tower and ends with Molly Bloom in bed that night. It moves from a simple straightforward dialogue, to a series of vignettes, from a play script, to a rich stream of consciousness with absolutely no punctuation whatsoever. Throughout it strongly reflects the story of  Odysseus on which it is loosely based.

Beyond the language and the story and the characters of Ulysses though is the evocative depiction of Dublin itself, perhaps the true hero of the piece. This is the Dublin of 1904: dark, begrimed, industrial; filled with death and life and laughter and longing. A simple city, a city of character, a home.  It fills the backdrop to the events of the novel, sinuously working its way into the heart and soul of the reader. Regardless of what you are left feeling about the novel or the characters, Ulysses pays homage to Dublin in such a way that you feel richer for having visited.

[For those of you though who simply cannot face the daunting task of reading Ulysses there have been a number of film adaptations, the latest (2003) of which was Bloom, starring Stephen Rea.]