From today’s “The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor,”

James Joyce | Dublin

James Joyce | Dublin

Today is Bloomsday. It is the day on which James Joyce’s (books by this author) Ulysses takes place, in 1904. It’s named after the main character, Leopold Bloom, and Joyce chose this day for the action of the novel to commemorate the first date he had with his future wife, Nora Barnacle, an uneducated chambermaid from Galway whom he met for a stroll around Dublin. A few days earlier, Nora had stood him up for their scheduled date.

Today, Joyceans all over the world celebrate with staged readings of Ulysses. Dublin has a long tradition of hosting celebrities, politicians, and international diplomats to do these dramatized readings. In fact, in Dublin, Bloomsday is not just celebrated for a day — it’s a weeklong extravaganza. There are Ulysses walking tours, where a person can retrace the steps of the fictional Leopold Bloom, as well as literary-themed pub crawls, musical acts, and museum exhibits. There’s also an annual Messenger Biker Rally, where people dressed in Joyce-era clothing ride old bicycles along the route that Leopold Bloom would have walked, and there are large-scale Irish breakfasts and afternoon teas devoted to Ulysses devotees.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®

Editor’s Note: You can listen to a podcast of today’s “Writer’s Almanac,” which includes an excerpt of Molly Bloom’s soliloquy from >Ulysses < here and a description of the activites in Dublin surrounding this day.

Also, the Saint Louis Beacon has a couple good videos of performances from this same passage and another. St. Louis, with its large community of Irish descendants and literary and theater groups, has readings and performances around town today to celebrate this, too.

This book was originally banned from the US and deemed “obscene,” when it was firt published in Paris in 1922. That’s a tidbit for those who may have slept through their English lit classes. Here’s a >link< to the whole, sordid story on that.

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