Stephen Fry Explains His Love for James Joyce’s Ulysses

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. 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.

Related content:

Henri Matisse Illustrates 1935 Edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses

James Joyce’s Ulysses: Download the Free Audio Book

James Joyce Reads ‘Anna Livia Plurabelle’ from Finnegans Wake

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Comments (5)
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  • Arte says:

    And a great dramatisation, all day long, in BBC Radio 4, available worlwide:

  • Thanks very much for this posting. As a non native English speaker I was intimidated by the aura of complexity that surrounds this book. The short testimonial provided by Fry is very encouraging. I guess this is one of those products of human genius that everyone should try before dying.

    Not only that but I absolutely loved the line “Just as William Blake could hold eternity in an hour, Joyce could frame an epic in a day”

  • zsuzsanna jávorcsik says:

    Stephen Fry’s summary made me want to read Ulysses in English. I used to read this novel in Hungarian, and it was very good even in translation. But as Mr Fry talks about it, makes me crave the original English words (and makes me want to read The Great Gatsby, too.:)

  • says:

    Wanted to forward this to Ex Libris
    and also another part of the Bloomsday
    celebration…a reading by James Joyce.
    You are my best conduit. Jackie

  • Chris Hall says:

    The RTE (Ireland’s National Broadcaster) did a superb rendition of this with a great production team, and a great cast.This can be found on
    Reading the text, whilst listening to this illuminates much.

    Couple with that, Frank DeLanyne’s exquisite “Re:Joyce” – a line-by-line explication of the book, that was never fully completed, allows the non-academic, “comprehensively” educated of us, to enjoy all the Homeric parallels, and allusions.

    Great resources, to help you on your third reading!

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