Monday, June 16, 2008

Bloomsday



104 years ago on this day, a fictional event took place in the book of James Joyce, Ulysses. The central character, hero and icon of that book was called Leopold Bloom. So, some Irish people like to commemorate the 16th of June each year as 'Bloomsday', by dressing up in Edwardian clothes, eating kidneys, and reading extracts from Ulysses.


Ulysses on Steady Diet of Books


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"...and I gave him all the pleasure I could leading him on till he asked me to say yes and I wouldn’t answer first only looked out over the sea and the sky I was thinking of so many things he didn’t know of Mulvey and Mr Stanhope and Hester and father and old captain Groves and the sailors playing all birds fly and I say stoop and washing up dishes they called it on the pier and then the sentry in front of the governors house with the thing round his white helmet poor devil half roasted and the Spanish girls laughing in their shawls and their tall combs and the auction in the morning the Greeks and the jews and the Arabs and the devil knows who else from all ends of Europe and Duke street and the fowl market all clucking outside Larby Sharons and the poor donkeys slipping half asleep and the vague fellows in the cloaks asleep in the shade on the steps and the big wheels of the carts of the bulls and the old castle thousand of years old yes and those handsome Moors all in white and turbans like kings asking you to sit down in their little bit of a shop and Ronda with the old windows of the posadas glancing eyes a lattice hid for her lover to kiss the iron and the wineshops half open at night and the castanets and the night we missed the boat at Algeciras the watchman going about serene with his lamp and O that awful deep-down torrent O and the sea the sea crimson sometimes like fire ad the glorious sunsets and the figtrees in the Alameda gardens yes and all the queer little streets and pink and blue and yellow houses and the rosegardens and the jessamine and geraniums and cactuses and Gibraltar as a girl where I was Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I though well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes."


Trieste-Z├╝rich-Paris, 1914-1921


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from Ulysses: A Short History, by Richard Ellmann


"Ulysses may be seen to conduct its affirmation by discovery of kinship among disparate things, whether these are mind and body, casual and important, contemporary and Homeric, or Bloom and Stephen. The universe is, if nothing else, irrevocably interpenetrating, Joyce takes an almost mystical pleasure in convergence – of times, persons, qualities. These receive authorization in Ulysses from no abstract statement, but from language, which is part of the argument as well as means of expressing it. By displaying the utmost linguistic variety, in levels of speech, in styles of writing, Ulysses testifies that, beneath all forms of conscious striving, of individual life or social organization, human beings are at work with syllables to submit language as living and delighting proof of their gregariousness."