The fictional events of James Joyce’s novel Ulysses take place on June 16, 1904. Since 1954 June 16 has been celebrated with reenactments and readings from the novel, in Dublin and elsewhere around the world, as “Bloomsday,” named after the novel’s Odyssean anti-hero Leopold Bloom. Celebrants particularly seem to enjoy dressing up in period costume, and I think a lot of drinking is involved, since the pubs are so convenient along the route of pilgrimage.
This year Father’s Day happened to fall on June 16, a rather piquant convergence for me, since James Joyce wrote exactly the sort of novels my father would never read. James Fenimore Cooper is the only novelist whose works Dad ever expressed a liking.
Yesterday evening, I took my copy of Ulysses down from the bookshelf and browsed through it. I bought it at a used bookstore thirty odd years ago, and truth be told, I hadn’t cracked it open for several years. Ulysses is one of those books I read so long ago I’ve forgotten more than I remember of it. So there are pleasures in the language and vocabulary of Joyce I was enjoying last night as an amnesiac–like a virgin, if you will. A very old virgin swived by the swivel of Joycean rondure, my aging brain more willing if not more pliable than that of the twenty-something who bought the book.
I also found a clipping tucked in between page 262 and page 263.
The clipping is a review of a biography of Sylvia Beach, who owned the Paris bookstore Shakespeare and Company, who published Ulysses when no one else would, and who helped Joyce in many ways. Joyce was a troublesome friend. In the end, he sold the rights to his book to another publisher, leaving Beach in debt after bankrolling Joyce’s literary career.
As you can see, my younger self decorated the clipping in pencil. I’m not sure what the odd trimming and circled words signify. It is dated “7 3 83.”
“…for who is silvier–“