Fans of James Joyce and his novel, Ulysses, commemorate the Irish author and that novel on June 16: Bloomsday. Named for Leopold Bloom, the main character in Ulysses, Bloomsday is celebrated on that date because Ulysses spans a single day—June 16—in Dublin.
Why June 16?—So that’s the reason Bloomsday celebrations occur on June 16. But why did Joyce set his story in June 16? The date, when Joyce chose it, did not coincide with the anniversary of a major world event. Nor does it appear to carry significance to Joyce in his personal life.
Could Joyce have chosen June 16 to commemorate the beginning of his romance with Nora Barnacle? Or perhaps he selected that date because it would not be in competition with that of a significant anniversary or holiday. Could Joyce have imagined that setting the actions for Ulysses on a neutral date would result in his novel receiving its own commemoration every June 16?
Answers could be found at the following Free, Local Event—
The Rosenbach Museum & Library, which has a manuscript of Ulysses— handwritten by Joyce—in its collection, hosts a Bloomsday celebration every June 16. This event includes a reading of Ulysses. Beginning at 9:30 a.m., Philadelphia area dignitaries, librarians and celebrities will each read a passage of Joyce’s novel. This year’s roster features longtime Philadelphia radio personality, David Dye and Jane Golden, executive director of the Philadelphia Mural Arts program, who appeared at Falvey in 2014.
To Dig Deeper, explore the following links, prepared by Sarah Wingo, team leader: Humanities II and also subject librarian for English, literature and theatre:
Free Downloadable audiobook of Ulysses
The Cambridge companion to James Joyce
Joyce Reading from Ulysses
Our Special Collections holdings for Joyce
The James Joyce Centre website
Team Leader: Humanities II
Falvey Memorial Library
Article by Gerald Dierkes and Alice Bampton.
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