"Bloomsday" celebrates James Joyce's 'Ulysses' and the city and people from which it sprang
Leopold Bloom is a mensch. The hero of James Joyce's Ulysses is a Jewish man in Catholic Dublin, a humane, thoughtful, and empathetic person whose stream-of-conscious thoughts we are privy to during one special day in 1904. One of the most complex and well-rounded characters in fiction, he's also, sadly, a cuckold. Married to a voluptuous singer named Molly, he hasn't been able to make love since the death of his son, Rudy. He's aware of her liaison with one Blazes Boylan, and he struggles all day to thrust images of them together out of his mind. Molly is modeled in part on Joyce's wife, Nora Barnacle, and June 16 is the day he first met her. The famed final chapter of the book, "Penelope," is a tour de force internal monologue showing that Joyce, like Bloom, could imagine himself in the mind and heart of a woman. Here are the final passages, from the Naxos audiobook.
Each year in Dublin since the 1950's, fans of Joyce get together to celebrate the work in public readings at places across the city that are
featured in the book. Besides being a portrait of Bloom and Stephen Daedalus (previously seen in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man), Ulysses is a pitch-perfect recreation of the city Joyce left behind, as detailed and accurate as he could possibly make it from his various perches in Trieste, Zurich, and Paris. So let's raise a glass of Guinness or Bass to the Joyces (who finally married in 1931) and even if we can't go to a marathon reading, perhaps knock off a chapter or two of his masterwork as well. Left: Poor eyesight plagued Joyce, but he always looked dapper; Below: wedding day snapshot