Thursday, June 16, 2011


June 16th. Bloomsday. The day in which Ulysses takes place. The day that Leopold Bloom wandered the streets of Dublin. The day that is now recognized every year as a literary celebration of James Joyce.

My first introduction to Ulysses came during a course about "scandalous arts" in which we read the final chapter, referred to as Molly Bloom's soliloquy, and discussed the obscenity trial of Ulysses (in the US in the 1930s).

My second attempt to tackle Ulysses, though I suppose my first real attempt at the whole, was during a three week trek in the Himalayas. Having torn through my other three novels during the first week of trekking, I opened Ulysses. "If it is the only thing I have to read, then it will get read," said logic. At this point in the trek I was already well over 4,000 meters above sea level. The walking would be much shorter due to the altitude, leaving me with far more down time. Perfect for reading, right? Not so much. Ulysses demands your full attention at sea level. At altitude, especially hovering around 3 miles above sea level, your brain is foggy, to say the least. I read half of Ulysses before telling myself to cut it out, I'd never remember it. How much do bragging rights about reading it count if you read every word, yet finished just short of comprehension?

My third attempt... is... now? Ulysses came with me to Ireland, but as I am writing from the past, I cannot predict how this battle is going. Even if it is not complete at this point, I will still appreciate Bloomsday for all that it is and know that probably 95% of my fellow revelers have not read the Joyce masterpiece cover to cover. And who knows, perhaps by this point I am among the 5%... but I know better than to count my chickens before they hatch.

June 16, 2011. Bloomsday in Dublin. I am there.

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