While Bloomsday is a time to celebrate the genius of James Joyce, it is also time to appreciate the achievement of getting through the difficulty that is the novel, Ulysses
Editor's note: On Sunday, June 16, Ireland and the world celebrates the genius of Irish novelist James Joyce and his most famous work, Ulysses. In the run-up to this celebration, IrishCentral is taking a look at books, recent news, and theories about James Joyce and his works. You can keep up-to-date on all our Bloomsday coverage and other literary news at IrishCentral's special books page here.
As Bloomsday, the day on which Leopold Bloom took his famous journey through Dublin in James Joyce’s novel “Ulysses” approaches on June 16, Joyce fans get ready to celebrate one of Ireland’s most famous authors. Joyce is celebrated for his wit, use of stream of consciousness, and challenging what a novel can be and do.
Despite all the praise, he can be difficult to read and many high school students have been dragged kicking and screaming through his collection of short stories, “Dubliners.”
In addition to “Ulysses” and “Dubliners,” Joyce is well known for “Finnegan’s Wake” which takes the reader through a maze of puns and languages with a difficult to decipher plot as Finnegan dreams. Joyce’s works are well worth the effort for the wit and beautiful passages they contain. Whether you are reading Joyce for the first time or can recite passages from memory, here are some relatable experiences about reading some of Joyce’s works for the first time.
It begins innocently enough with optimism.
This shouldn’t be too bad, even Marilyn Monroe read “Ulysses.”
Then things get a bit confusing and the plot gets a little lost.
You think if you continue, you can figure it out, but things become complicated.
You try rereading some passages, but you feel like you’re making no progress.
Don’t get discouraged, even Joyce’s wife, Nora Barnacle said to him, “Why can’t you write sensible books that people can understand?”
So you seek help from a friend or plot synopsis. (Check your local library for a companion book specific to the work you’re reading. There are books available that contain plot synopsis and some literary critique. “The New Bloomsday Book: A Guide Through Ulysses” by Harry Blamire is helpful for understanding “Ulysses.”)
Then you reach a breakthrough and understand what’s going on.
Finally, you finish the book and can boast to your friends about your literary accomplishment.
So this Bloomsday consider reading part of Ulysses or some of his other works. If you don’t want to, you can always just wear an eyepatch.
Have you completed "Ulysses" or any other of Joyce's works? Let us know which is your favorite in the comments section, below.
* Originally published in 2016.