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Subject: Bllomsday 2004
From: 46FORTIN <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:CELTIC-L - The Celtic Culture List.
Date:Wed, 16 Jun 2004 13:33:48 -0400
Content-Type:text/plain
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From today's New York Times:

"Sixteenth today it is," thinks Leopold Bloom, and the 16th it was, in June
1904. James Joyce, age 22, would walk out that very night in Dublin with Nora
Barnacle, whom he later wedded. "Ulysses" is set on that day  Bloomsday, as
it has come to be called  in honor of Joyce's meeting Miss Barnacle. Many
Joyceans have made of Bloomsday a literary Mardi Gras, an odyssey through
Dublin using the points of Joyce's compass, a day to celebrate Irishness and
the peculiar verbal fecundity of that nation. In a novel full of celebrated
talkers, it is Bloom, Jew and Irishman, who hovers, voice and thought, over
the proceedings. As one barroom patron in the novel says, show Bloom a straw
on the floor and "he'd talk about it for an hour so he would and talk steady."

All these years later, one somehow thinks of "Ulysses" as being of that day,
June 16, 1904, though it was published in February 1922. It is still as
defiant a comedy as ever, as fictional as a gazetteer, willing to make a hash
of the genres its author inherited. Now and then, a critic feels the need to
tilt against "Ulysses," to complain of a byzantine difficulty in certain
passages, to lament Joyce's leaps of logic and illogic, his utter sacrifice of
plot. But by destroying plot  reducing it to a kind of geography  Joyce
succeeds in reinventing time. Bloomsday is the most capacious day in
literature. Only the hours of Lear's suffering last longer, and there time
passes in a stage direction. Language has almost never had a surer substance 
a stronger temporal beat  than Joyce gives it in the thoughts of Leopold
Bloom and his wife, Molly, along with Stephen Dedalus and Dublin's assembled
hordes.

"Ulysses" has come to stand as the apogee of "elitist" literature, a novel
that carries a kind of foreboding in its very title, the prospect of a hard
road ahead. But there is really no less elitist novel in the English language.
Its stuff is the common life of man, woman and child. You take what you can,
loping over the smooth spots and pulling up short when you need to. Dedalus
may indulge in Latinate fancy, and Joyce may revel in literary mimicry. But
the real sound of this novel is the sound of the street a century ago: the
noise of centuries of streets echoing over the stones.

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