June 16, 2022

Bloomsday: Celebrating Ulysses by James Joyce

Banner image says Bloomsday 2022 Celebrate Ulysses by James Joyce with a small image of the author

June 16th is Bloomsday! What is Bloomsday? 

It is a celebration of the novel Ulysses by James Joyce which all takes place on Thursday, June 16th 1904 in Dublin, Ireland and is named for the central character, Leopold Bloom.

The first celebration of Bloomsday in Ireland was 1954 for the 50th anniversary, and continues to this day with special visits to the places mentioned in the novel. But people around the world celebrate Bloomsday too, with people dressing up as characters from the book, hosting readings, re-enactments, and performances, as well as creating food and drink from the book.

Celebrators (1999), image from Wikipedia

Importance of Ulysses

The book itself was published February 2, 1922 by Sylvia Beach through her bookstore Shakespeare and Company in Paris. In the 100 years since its publication, Ulysses has been celebrated and censored, banned and cherished. Banned on obscenity charges while still in draft chapters and again in a 1928 US Customs trial, the book afterwards was seized at US customs and burned because it “might cause American readers to harbor "impure and lustful thoughts".” This ban was challenged in court and lifted in 1934; the free speech arguments in defense of Ulysses in that landmark case have shaped the subsequent debates about literature’s rights to freedom of expression to this day.

The Archer Library is lucky to have a copy from this first seized 1922 run of Ulysses in our Special Collections seen here

1922 copy of Ulysses - Archer Library Special Collections

And while we can’t read from it for Bloomsday, we are excited to enjoy the celebration of the James Joyce’s work 100 years later. Let us know how you plan to celebrate Bloomsday, or your thoughts on this epic noel by James Joyce!

To learn more about Bloomsday here are some of the official websites: 

https://jamesjoyce.ie/bloomsday/ (James Joyce Center)

http://www.bloomsdayfestival.ie/ (Festival page)

https://www.ireland.com/en-us/things-to-do/events/bloomsday-festival/ (Ireland’s tourism page)

Want to read the book yourself?

Read the book here: https://gutenberg.org/ebooks/4300

Listen to the audio book here: https://archive.org/details/Ulysses-Audiobook

First page of Ulysses (1922 edition)

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