Bloomsday — from Dublin to Gisborne

June 16, the single day Irish writer James Joyce's monumental literary experiment Ulysses is set in, has come to be celebrated as Bloomsday in honour of the central character Leopold Bloom.

June 16, the single day Irish writer James Joyce's monumental literary experiment Ulysses is set in, has come to be celebrated as Bloomsday in honour of the central character Leopold Bloom.

JAMES JOYCE: The main character in Irish writer James Joyce’s 1904 monumental masterpiece Ulysses is Leopold Bloom. The book is set in a single day, June 16, which has come to be celebrated as Bloomsday from Dublin to Gisborne.
Picture by Alex Ehrenzweig, 1915

SET in a single day in 1904, Irish writer James Joyce’s monumental masterpiece Ulysses is the story of melancholic Dublin Jew, Leopold Bloom.

Since the 1920s, Joyce’s literary experiment has been celebrated in cities from Dublin to Gisborne on Bloomsday, June 16. That is the day of Bloom’s peripatetic encounters that begin with a breakfast of “the inner organs of beasts and fowls” and ends with his return in the evening to his promiscuous wife, Molly Bloom.

Ulysses is a challenging read. Many have embarked on it but have faltered a few chapters in.

Gisborne artist, the late Graeme Mudge read it several times, however, says his wife Lisette Mudge.

“Graeme started the Bloomsday meetings many years ago at the Irish Rover. We used to go for lunch there with friends and Graeme would hold court. He would sometimes read a few things from Ulysses. I was never patient enough to read it but it has some lovely passages.”

When the Irish Rover in Peel Street changed hands and its name, the Bloomsday group re-convened at The Rivers.

“We’re a small group now,” says Lisette. “We eat Irish food and have a glass of red wine or what Bloom had that day.”

While Ulysses is no longer the sole focus of the Bloomsday gathering in Gisborne, the meeting is an opportunity to talk about books, enjoy a spot of craic and think about Graeme, says Lisette.

Sailing into Ulysses

Joyce’s 18 episode novel is considered to be one of the most important works of modernist literature. Its influence can be seen, directly or indirectly, in works by writers from Virginia Woolf to Jack Kerouac, from William Faulkner to New Zealand author Craig Marriner.

The Bloomsday tradition began in the 1920s but properly took hold on June 16, 1954, when Dublin literati Flann O’Brien, Patrick Kavanagh and others embarked on Bloom’s journey around the city.

The men met near Martello Tower where the opening scenes of Ulysses take place. They took on the identities of characters in the book. They drank, nearly came to blows, urinated on walls and only got as far as the literary pub known as the Bailey.

Their Ulyssean, albeit brief, voyage was immortalised on film and can be viewed at www.tinyurl.com/y83e4ujh.

SET in a single day in 1904, Irish writer James Joyce’s monumental masterpiece Ulysses is the story of melancholic Dublin Jew, Leopold Bloom.

Since the 1920s, Joyce’s literary experiment has been celebrated in cities from Dublin to Gisborne on Bloomsday, June 16. That is the day of Bloom’s peripatetic encounters that begin with a breakfast of “the inner organs of beasts and fowls” and ends with his return in the evening to his promiscuous wife, Molly Bloom.

Ulysses is a challenging read. Many have embarked on it but have faltered a few chapters in.

Gisborne artist, the late Graeme Mudge read it several times, however, says his wife Lisette Mudge.

“Graeme started the Bloomsday meetings many years ago at the Irish Rover. We used to go for lunch there with friends and Graeme would hold court. He would sometimes read a few things from Ulysses. I was never patient enough to read it but it has some lovely passages.”

When the Irish Rover in Peel Street changed hands and its name, the Bloomsday group re-convened at The Rivers.

“We’re a small group now,” says Lisette. “We eat Irish food and have a glass of red wine or what Bloom had that day.”

While Ulysses is no longer the sole focus of the Bloomsday gathering in Gisborne, the meeting is an opportunity to talk about books, enjoy a spot of craic and think about Graeme, says Lisette.

Sailing into Ulysses

Joyce’s 18 episode novel is considered to be one of the most important works of modernist literature. Its influence can be seen, directly or indirectly, in works by writers from Virginia Woolf to Jack Kerouac, from William Faulkner to New Zealand author Craig Marriner.

The Bloomsday tradition began in the 1920s but properly took hold on June 16, 1954, when Dublin literati Flann O’Brien, Patrick Kavanagh and others embarked on Bloom’s journey around the city.

The men met near Martello Tower where the opening scenes of Ulysses take place. They took on the identities of characters in the book. They drank, nearly came to blows, urinated on walls and only got as far as the literary pub known as the Bailey.

Their Ulyssean, albeit brief, voyage was immortalised on film and can be viewed at www.tinyurl.com/y83e4ujh.

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