What Is Bloomsday?
- Book Lovers /
- Just For Fun
Two hundred sixty-five thousand. That is the approximate number of words in James Joyce’s epic story Ulysses. And every one of those words takes place on June 16th. This date has since come to be known as Bloomsday, after the story’s protagonist Leopold Bloom.
It is probably no surprise that Bloomsday has special significance at the Ulysses Press offices! Forty years ago when our small press was founded, we were named after Joyce’s novel, a favorite of our founder, Ray Riegert. So in honor of this, very special, 100th Bloomsday, allow us a brief homage to our namesake’s holiday.
When Ulysses was first published, it was serialized in the journal The Little Review–published in parts for two and a half years! In 1922 the novel was first published in its entirety by Sylvia Beach. It was published in February (on James Joyce’s 40th birthday), which means we just passed the 100th anniversary of its “official” publication.
That means June 16, 1922 was the first Bloomsday, and today marks the 100th. Even if you’ve never read Ulysses, you may still know that the story revolves around Leopold Bloom, and is a “modern” parallel to Homer’s Odyessy. The entire course of the book’s events take place on one day in June, as we follow Leopold, his wife Molly, and Stephen Daedalus, a teacher. A brief summary of the book’s events may make it appear that nothing very groundbreaking happens, but as Britannica writes:
“Although the main strength of Ulysses lies in its depth of character portrayal and its breadth of humour, the book is most famous for its use of a variant of the interior monologue known as the stream-of-consciousness technique. Joyce thereby sought to replicate the ways in which thought is often seemingly random and to illustrate that there is no possibility of a clear and straight way through life.”
In honor of Bloom’s day spent making his way around Dublin with his inner monologue, fans of Joyce worldwide celebrate the with readings, book clubs, dramatizations, and, often, pub crawls. Nearby our New York City office, the pub Ulysses has a full slate of celebrations planned each year.
So, the staff of Ulysses Press formally invites you to celebrate with us this year by reading a favorite passage, picking up the book for the first time, or enjoying a pint!
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