Bloomsday is the day on which James Joyce’s Ulysses takes place. Set over the course of one day — June 16th, 1904 — where every hour is represented by a chapter (or episode) of the novel, Ulysses tells the story of a man, Leopold Bloom, as he charts his way through the urban landscape of Dublin; the emotional quagmire of loss, adultery and parenthood; and the quotidian reality of jobs, social awkwardness, flawed nationalism, and everything in between. Stylistically, Ulysses is both varied and delightful, with each episode reflecting its content (“Aeolus,” an episode of hot air, takes place in a newspaper office and is written as headlines and articles; “Sirens,” where Bloom seeks to be distracted by music, is structured as a fuga per canonem; the nightmarish, midnight “Circe” episode is written as a dream play; and so on and so forth). Each episode also contains a parallel to Homer’s Odyssey, and these are only the tip of the iceberg. Joyce once claimed that the enigmas and puzzles of his works would keep professors and students busy for centuries; and considering its publication in 1922 and the strength of the Joyce “industry,” his threat has proven true.
Today, Bloomsday is celebrated all over the world through dramatizations, the singing of songs, urban pilgrimages, and the consumption of kidneys, gorgonzola, burgundy, and cider at their designated hours.
The Department of English hosted the latest Bloomesday on June 16th, 2021. Please stay tuned for further information and/or watch this space and our Facebook page for updates.