Joyceans rejoice! It’s Bloomsday.
The novel follows the life and thoughts of Leopold Bloom from 8am on 16 June through to the early hours of the following morning. Bloomsday is named for Leopold.
Joyce began prep work for Ulysses in 1902 when he was just twenty, gathering his epiphanies and arranging them into notes. After A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man was published, Joyce earnestly dug in to work on Ulysses in 1914, finally publishing it in 1922.
Ulysses was banned in various countries for years, including the United States and Great Britain, being labeled ‘obscene’ for Joyce’s use of curse words and ‘radical’ techniques like stream-of-consciousness narrative. Early publishers were tried under obscenity provisions in the U.S. Postal Code, found guilty, and ordered to cease publication. Publicity from the trial, and it’s designation as a banned book, only served to generate more interest around Ulysses.
During the ban, the book was frequently smuggled into the States from Paris, where an American expat had begun publishing it in 1922. It was not published legally in an english-speaking country until Random House won a 4-year court battle against obscenity charges in 1934.
Today, Ulysses is considered one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century.
Celebrate Bloomsday by testing your James Joyce knowledge, or by starting a listening marathon of the classic on audio book. (I might suggest listening to the audio book first, because I must admit, I got a shameful 3 out of 16 on the quiz.)
You can also check out #bloomsday on twitter to see how others are celebrating. (Hint: it frequently involves pints, dirty talk, and kidney, which Bloom eats for breakfast in the novel. ) Think I’ll stick to the book, and the quiz. We’ll see about the pints and dirty talk when lunch rolls around.