Today is “Bloomsday,” the day when literature lovers around the world gather in bookstores and Irish pubs and other fitting places to celebrate James Joyce’s masterpiece of high modernism, Ulysses.
June 16, 1904 was the day Joyce first went out for a walk with his future wife, Nora Barnacle–a fateful day in his life, which he decided to commemorate in his great novel, first published in Paris in 1922. All the events in the book–more than 700 densely written pages of experimental prose rich in allusions and structured around Homer’s Odyssey–take place on that single day in 1904. Just as William Blake could hold eternity in an hour, Joyce could frame an epic in a day.
To celebrate the occasion we bring you a pair of videos. Above, the British actor and writer Stephen Fry speaks briefly about his love of Joyce’s book. Below is Ian Graham’s 2000 documentary, James Joyce: The Trials of Ulysses, which provides some fascinating background and commentary on the novel. To find out if there are any events near you, visit the Rosenbach Museum & Library’s Bloomsday Central Web site. And to dive into the book, you can find copies in our collections of Free Audio Books and Free eBooks.