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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