Upon reading Joyce’s Ulysses, his contemporary T. S. Eliot observed:  “I wish, for my own sake, that I had not read it… Joyce has single-handedly killed the 19th century.” There is no doubt that the publication of the modern epic marked the beginning of a new era in the literary world. Ulysses is considered one of the best novels of the 20th century and 90 years after its first publication it is still fresh and revolutionary.


Today is “Bloomsday” and art lovers celebrate it around the globe. ‘Bloomsday”, named after the protagonist of the Ulysses Leopold Bloom whose wanderings through the streets of Dublin occur on June 16, 1904, is an international celebration of Joyce’s modernist masterpiece. During the celebration, events from the book are brought to life and reenacted. In addition, there are marathon readings of Ulysses with an ultimate goal to read it in a single day. Of course, the whole event is unimaginable without following the steps of Leopold Bloom.

“I want to give a picture of Dublin so complete that if the city one day suddenly disappeared from the earth it could be reconstructed out of my book.” Joyce
  • Nabokov on Ulysses
Each chapter is written in a different style, or rather with a different style predominating. There is no special reason why this should be – why one chapter should be told straight, another through a stream-of-consciousness gurgle, a third through the prism of a parody. There is no special reason but it may be argued that this constant shift of the viewpoint conveys a more varied knowledge, fresh vivid glimpses from this or that side. If you have ever tried to stand and bend your head so as to look back between your knees, with your face turned upside down, you will see the world in a totally different light. Try it on the beach: it is very funny to see people walking when you look at them upside down. They seem to be, with each step, disengaging their feet from the glue of gravitation, without losing their dignity. Well, this trick of changing the vista, of changing the prism and the viewpoint, can be compared to Joyce´s new literary technique, to the kind of new twist through which you see a greener grass, a fresher world (…)
  • “If music be the food of love, play on”

Joyce had a particular reason to choose this date for the setting of his modern epic. It was on this day when Nora Barnacle, his future wife, accepted to go out for an evening stroll with him. She was his love at a first sight, and this is why he felt desperate when she didn’t appear on their first arranged meeting. She agreed to meet him two days later, after receiving his letter in which his devastation can be strongly  felt:

I may be blind. I looked for a long time at a head of reddish-brown hair and decided it was not yours. I went home quite dejected. I would like to make an appointment but it might not suit you. I hope you will be kind enough to make one with me — if you have not forgotten me!

She was his only love, muse, companion, inspiration.


However, this day is marked by another love story as well. Namely, two great poets Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes began their short and tumultuous marriage in 1956. They met only four months earlier and she described their meeting in her journal:


        • Then the worst thing happened, that big, dark, hunky boy, the only one there huge enough for me, who had been hunching around over women, and whose name I had asked the minute I had come into the room, but no one told me, came over and was looking hard in my eyes and it was Ted Hughes. . . . And then it came to the fact that I was all there, wasn’t I, and I stamped and screamed yes . . . and I was stamping and he was stamping on the floor, and then he kissed me bang smash on the mouth and ripped my hair band off, my lovely red hairband scarf which had weathered the sun and much love, and whose like I shall never again find, and my favorite silver earrings: hah, I shall keep, he barked.
          And when he kissed my neck I bit him long and hard on the cheek, and when we came out of the room, blood was running down his face.
Share Button


No comments yet. Why don’t you start the discussion?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.