Thursday, May 27, 2010
Our aim is to present Molly Bloom as if she has just been hurled from the pages of a giant copy of Ulysses. Art in motion. Literature in progress. On the front color side, it is daylight and she is rehearsing with Blazes Boylan just after they make love around 4 oclock in the afternoon. On the backside, she is alone in bed in the wee hours of the morning waiting for Bloom to come home. Molly Bloom, the singer, the artist, working and living and eating and loving all day long in bed. Bed as the female power center of the home. Bed as canvas. Bed as work station. Bed as concert hall. Bed as the stage for life. Bed, bed, bed.
Let us know if you see the postcards and tell us where! Or send us your address and we will mail you one old school. Special thanks to Raphaele Shirley, Bobby of Bibberbox and Olivia Beall for their advice and expertise.
We've have been working around the clock here at Radio Bloomsday central (aka Molly Bloom's bed) to put together a really exciting cast of artists ready to throw down some vocal acrobatics on the 16th of June. In addition to Charles Busch, T. Ryder Smith and Aaron Beall who prerecorded for us earlier in the week, we have a dozen New York super talents ready to enter the ring. Barbara Vann of the Medicine Show Theater, who performed Finnegans Wake for us last year, will open the show this year and invoke the goddess of literature with a recitation of the famous Irish poem The Hag of Beare circa 800 BC.
The first hour of the program will focus on Stephen Dedalus with the Pulitizer Prize winning poet Paul Muldoon performing Proteus. Speaking of poets, we are introducing a new segment in this year's broadcast devoted to new writers reading their own work. Poets Merideth Finn and Mac Barrett, both seasoned Bloomsday performers will read from their new work.
Alec Baldwin, Jerry Stiller, Amy Stiller, Bob Dishy, Judy Graubart, Anna Goodman-Herrick, Brian O'Doherty, Jim Fletcher, Kate Valk, James Kennedy, Mara McEwin, Tara Bahna James, Janet Coleman, David Dozer, Richard Maxwell and Tory Vasquez will be performing this year. We are working on a Los Angeles contingent of performers to join us from the Left Coast via ISDN. More on that as it develops.
Now I must return to the script. More on Molly in the morning...
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Every year, we pre-record some excerpts of Radio Bloomsday to make it easier to switch between segments during our seven hour live broadcast. Today we recorded a thirty minute piece from the Circe episode of Ulysses with three legendary downtown artists : Charles Busch(above), T. Ryder Smith and Aaron Beall.
Circe is written in the form of a play, as Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom drunkenly wander through Dublin's Red light district. We recorded the section where Bloom explores his perverse sexual fantasies under the tutelage of whoremistress Madame Bella Cohen. The playwright and performer and novelist Charles Busch essayed the role of Bella and brought a disarming sweetness to the character of this famous sadist that was devastating and unique. Charles' new play The Divine Sister opens at Soho Rep this September. The chameleon T. Ryder Smith who is presently playing Hitler, Ronald Regan and Queen Elizabeth (pictured above) in Sara Ruhl's Passion Play read the narration and hilariously about a half dozen other roles. Aaron Beall (below with Molly), the founder of Nada and the New York International Fringe Festival played a stripped down and exposed, quintessentially New York Bloom.
Below is a short excerpt from Circe, as Bella/Bello chastises Bloom. Tune in on Wednesday, June 16th around 10pm to hear these superstars perform the entire piece.
BELLO: (Savagely) The nosering, the pliers, the bastinado, the hanging hook, the knout I'll make you kiss while the flutes play like the Nubian slave of old. You're in for it this time! I'll make you remember me for the balance of your natural life.
(His forehead veins swollen, his face congested)
I shall sit on your ottoman saddleback every morning after my thumping good breakfast of Matterson's fat hamrashers and a bottle of Guinness's porter.
And suck my thumping good Stock Exchange cigar while I read the Licensed Victualler's Gazette. Very possibly I shall have you slaughtered and skewered in my stables and enjoy a slice of you with crisp crackling from the baking tin basted and baked like sucking pig with rice and lemon or currant sauce. It will hurt you.
(He twists her arm. Bloom squeals, turning turtle.)
BLOOM: Don't be cruel, nurse! Don't!
Monday, May 24, 2010
One of the reasons that readers find Ulysses daunting is because of the many obscure Irish, Hellenic, Catholic and literary references throughout the text. With the advent of the internet, dozens of websites devoted to decoding the book became available online. In many ways, Ulysses is the perfect test case for literary hypertext. Jorn Barger of robotwisdom.com has been experimenting with the many layers of an online Ulysses for over a decade. His site is an invaluable resource for new and seasoned readers. You can read his notes on episode 1 here.
Recently, a new website devoted to Ulysses as an online literary experience launched at ulyssesulysses.com and it is wonderful. Roll the mouse over a highlighted reference or vocabulary word and an instant explanation appears. No more thumbing through Ulysses annotated or googling Latin phrases. A work in progress by Amanda Visconti, the first two episodes are available now. A perfect place for new readers to start.
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Nora Barnacle, Giorgio and Lucia Joyce in Zurich, 1918 while James Joyce was writing Ulysses.
Joyce often used his family for inspiration. Nora was the inspiration for Leopold's adulterous wife Molly Bloom. Joyce pestered her while he was writing Ulysses to have an affair so that he would know what it felt like to be a cuckold. Nora refused.
When asked by a reporter what made her different from Molly, Nora replied, "She was fatter."
Lucia was a major inspiration for both Finnegans Wake and the character of Milly in Ulysses. There is no corresponding character for Giorgio in Ulysses. Leopold and Molly's son Rudy died in infancy in the novel and is the reason the couple have not had sex in ten years.
Giorgio Joyce was born in 1905 in Switzerland just around the time his grandfather died in Dublin. Joyce's father was the model for Simon Dedalus, Stephen's alcoholic, wastrel of a father in Ulysses.
Joyce wrote the poem Ecce Puer (Behold the boy) when his son was a newborn.
Of the dark past
A child is born;
With joy and grief
My heart is torn.
Calm in his cradle
The living lies.
May love and mercy
Unclose his eyes!
Young life is breathed
On the glass;
The world that was not
Comes to pass.
A child is sleeping:
An old man gone.
O, father forsaken,
Forgive your son!
Friday, May 21, 2010
To put together your own Bloomsday celebration, all you need is a copy of Ulysses, an internet connection or a radio. Some drinks and snacks mentioned in the book are also a nice touch if you are inviting friends: Beer, burgundy, tea, brown bread, gorgonzola cheese, for instance. At 7pm EST, you turn on the radio and listen to wbai 99.5FM or go online to wbai.org.
You can also pass around your copy of Ulysses to your guests or choose selections for them to read and print them out and let them each in turn read aloud from the book. Edwardian dress is optional but always encouraged, long dresses and bowler hats and nightgowns are welcome. Bloomsday is a day for people who love the book to share it with people who have never read it, to help new readers find their way in to a challenging, inspiring, rewarding and for some life changing literary experience.
The first Bloomsday celebration was a lunch organized by Joyce's publisher Sylvia Beach in Paris, 1929. The first Irish Bloomsday took place in 1954 as the great Irish poet Patrick Kavanaugh and novelist Flan O'Brien visited some of the places mentioned in Ulysses and read from the novel. Traditionally, Bloomsday starts at breakfast time with a nice Irish fry and ends drunkenly at 2ish in the morning. Take just five minutes to think of the book and listen to or read a few paragraphs and you have taken part in a worldwide literary celebration.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Much has been of the fact that James Joyce chose to make Leopold Bloom, the lead character in Ulysses, Jewish. Bloom's father is a Hungarian Jew who immigrated to Ireland. Bloom's mother is Irish. While according to Jewish law Bloom would not be considered Jewish, he is certainly looked upon as other by the Irish community in which he lives. While Ireland was a safe place for Jews to live in the early 1900's, Joyce highlights several moments of anti-semitism in the book. In episode two, the school teacher Mr Deasy tells Stephen Dedalus that: "England is in the hands of the jews. In all the highest places: her finance, her press. And they are the signs of a nation's decay." At the end of The Cyclops episode of Ulysses, the Citizen hurls a biscuit tin at Bloom's head and threatens to crucify him after Bloom says: "Mendelssohn was a jew and Karl Marx and Mercadante and Spinoza. And the Saviour was a jew and his father was a jew. Your God."
By making Bloom Jewish, Joyce was able to create a connection between this very Irish tale and communities the world over. Additionally, Bloom's Jewishness underlines his outsider status in Ireland something that Joyce himself felt keenly as artist in self-exile in Europe. In many ways both Bloom and Dedalus are stands in for Joyce. Bloom as the older man trying to provide for his family with his unreliable income and Stephen as a young artist attempting to make his mark on a people and a society not yet ready to listen to him.
There is some discussion that perhaps it is Molly Bloom and not Leopold who is Jewish. The background of Molly's mother, Lunita Laredo, is unknown and there are intimations throughout her monologue that she was an outsider of somesort, a gypsy, an artist or perhaps a Jew. One of the most memorable Jewish characters in all of Irish literature, is of course the whoremistress Madame Bella Cohen who appears in The Circe episode and is the subject of Bloom's filthy sexual fantasies. For Radio Bloomsday 2010, Charles Busch performs the role of Bella Cohen, Aaron Beall is Bloom and T. Ryder Smith is the narrator.
The twentieth century Jewish community in Ireland was very prominent with two Jewish mayors and several Jewish ministers of parliament coming from a community of fewer than 2000 people. The first Jewish mayor of Dublin, Douglas Briscoe is pictured above. Irish historian Cormac O'Grada has written a very informative book about the Jewish community in Ireland at the time entitled Jewish Ireland in the Age of Joyce. More recently, a film Shalom Ireland which you can preview at the link discusses the Jewish community in Ireland today.
Although Ulysses has been translated into several languages including Hebrew, there has never been a Yiddish translation of the book. For Bloomsday, 2005, I translated a few paragraphs between Bloom and his old girlfriend Mrs. Denis Breen aka Josie Powell which you can read here -
-- O, Mr Bloom, how do you do?
OT, REB BLOOM, VOS MAKT IR?
-- O, how do you do, Mrs Breen?
NU, VOS HERT ZIKH, FRAU BREEN?
-- No use complaining. How is Molly those times? Haven't seen her for ages.
FAR VOS ZOL IHK KVETSHN? UN VI GAYT MOLLY AF YEDN TEG? ICH HOB A LANGE TSAYT ZI NISHT GEZEN.
-- In the pink, Mr Bloom said gaily, Milly has a position down in Mullingar, you know.
IN BESTN GEZUNT HOT REB BLOOM GEZOGT MIT FRAYD. MILLY HOT A JOB IN MULLINGAR, DOKH.
-- Go away! Isn't that grand for her?
NISHT EMES! DOS IZ ZAYER GUT FAR IR, NISHT VOR?
-- Yes, in a photographer's there. Getting on like a house on fire. How are all your charges?
YAU, BAY A FOTOGRAFER DORTN. S’IZ VI SHABES ALE VOKH. VI GAYT DI KINDER?
-- All on the baker's list, Mrs Breen said.
K’HOB NAKHES HOT FRAU BREEN GEZOGT
How many has she? No other in sight.
VIFL HOT ZI? KAYN ANDERE ZAY IHK NISHT
-- You're in black, I see. You have no...?
IR TUT AN SHVARTZE KLAYDER, ZAY ICH, IR HOT NISHT GEHAT KAYN -
-- No, Mr Bloom said. I have just come from a funeral.
NAYN, HOT MR BLOOM GEZOGT, ICH BIN YEZT TSURIK GEKUMEN OF A LAVAYA
Going to crop up all day, I foresee. Who's dead, when and what did he die of? Turn up like a bad penny.
S’VET ARAYNKHAPN ALE TOG, IKH ZAY, VER IZ TOIT, VEN UN FUN VOS IZ ER GESHTORBN, SVET ARAYN KHAPN VI CHOLERIA
-- O dear me, Mrs Breen said. I hope it wasn't any near relation.
OY VAY IZ MIR, FRAU BREEN HOT GEZOGT, IKH HOF AZ S’IZ NISHT GEVEN KAYN KROVIM
May as well get her sympathy.
A BISL MITLAYD, FAR VOS NIT?
-- Dignam, Mr Bloom said. An old friend of mine. He died quite suddenly, poor fellow. Heart trouble, I believe. Funeral was this morning.
DIGNAM HOT REB BLOOM GEZOGT, AN ALTE FRAYNT MAYN. ER IZ GESHTORBN ZAYER PLUTZLING, NEBEKH. TSUROS MITN HARTS MAYN IKH. DI LAVAYA IZ GEVEN IN DER FREE.
Your funeral's tomorrow
While you're coming through the rye.
DAYN LAVAYA IS MORGN
VEN DU KUMST DURCHN RYE
YADADIE DIE DIE
YADADEE DEE DEE
-- Sad to lose the old friends, Mrs Breen's womaneyes said melancholily.
S’IZ ZAJER TROIERK VEN DI ALTE KHAVERIM GAEYN, FRAU BREENS OIGN HAT MIT TROIER GEZOGT
Now that's quite enough about that. Just quietly: husband.
GENUG SHOIN. SHA STIL – IR MAN.
-- And your lord and master?
UN IR GRAF UN BALABUS?
Mrs Breen turned up her two large eyes. Hasn't lost them anyhow.
FRAU BREEN HOT AB GEDRAYT IR ZVAI GROISE OIGN. ZI HOBN ZAY NISHT GELOZT, MIRTSHASHEM
-- O, don't be talking! she said. He's a caution to rattlesnakes. He's in there now with his lawbooks finding out the law of libel. He has me heartscalded. Wait till I show you.
OY! SHA, ZI HOT GEZOGT. A DYBUK IZ ARAYN IN IM. ER HAK MIKH A TCHAINIK. ER IZ ARAYN DORTN MITN TALMUD ZUKNDIK A DAVAR TOIRA VEGN LOSHN-HORE, IKH’LL ES AKYH BAVIZN.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
One of the greatest barriers to reading James Joyce's Ulysses is the way the book is published, small print, crammed together with no white space. There are many free online versions of the text that you can copy into a word document print in larger font with spaces between the lines or read on your screen and all of sudden the book is infinitely more accessible. Listening to other people read the book aloud is always helpful or you could try reading episodes aloud to yourself, your child, your friend, your cat.
There are several guides which can be helpful to get your footing and familiarize yourself with the plot, the most popular being Ulysses Annotated which explains most of the obscure references in the book and Harry Blamires' The Bloomsday Book which gives a plot summary for each episode. You can also google this information. In fact, Ulysses is ideal for an online reading experience.
That said, you don't have to start at the beginning. You might, like this photo of Marilyn above, prefer to start at the end and read the Penelope episode which is Molly Bloom's monologue as she lies alone in bed in the middle of the night. Here is Molly unpunctuated thoughts on servants of which at present she has none:
"its his fault of course having the two of us slaving here instead of getting in a woman long ago am I ever going to have a proper servant again of course then shed see him coming Id have to let her know or shed revenge it arent they a nuisance that old Mrs Fleming you have to be walking round after her putting the things into her hands sneezing and farting into the pots well of course shes old she cant help it a good job I found that rotten old smelly dishcloth that got lost behind the dresser I knew there was something and opened the area window to let out the smell."
Stephen Dedalus's monologue and philosophical musings in Proteus, episode 3, is somewhat more difficult to read. It begins with that beautiful famous phrase "Ineluctable modality of the visible:" which he then explains as "at least that if no more, thought through my eyes." Stephen is the most intellectual of all of the characters in Ulysses, with a brain and an education most like his creator James Joyce. The passages in which he appears require the fiercest concentration but when you unlock them, when you finally follow as "he proves by algebra that Hamlet's grandson is Shakespeare's grandfather and that he himself is the ghost of his own father" the experience is exhilarating.
Stephen consumes the first three chapters of the novel, so if you find them difficult, you might also like to start with Episode 4 when we first meet Bloom eating his breakfast: "Mr Bloom ate with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls."
Many readers enjoy Circe, episode 15, which takes place in Nighttown, Dublin's Red Light District. It is written in play form through the drunken eyes of its protagonists, Bloom and Stephen and is full of prostitutes, beggars, Bloom's filthy fantasies and Stephen's ghosts. Feel free to skip around and often when you feel lost it is because Joyce has shifted literary mediums and you haven't realized it yet. Unlike most writers who seek to put their readers in a dream state and keep them there, Joyce is consistently throwing us out of his own narrative. He wants us to keep up him with him or go home.
Personally, I am a lazy reader. I like to crack a book's spine, dunk it in the bath and consume it quickly while supine. It still takes me awhile to find my way into Ulysses chapter by chapter despite dramatizing this book for the better part of a decade. When you read Joyce, he cracks your spine, dunks you in the bath and consumes you quickly. Don't give up, don't think him pretentious and impenetrable. Dig and he will be revealed, sentence by sentence. You will be rewarded by stepping deeper and deeper into the mind of a brilliant man who lived his artistic life fearlessly.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Thousands of books have been written about James Joyce's life and art and the connection between the two. One of my favorite books to come out of the prolific industry of Joyce scholarship is Carol Loeb Shloss's book on his daughter Lucia entitled Lucia Joyce: To Dance in the Wake.
Lucia was born in 1907 in the pauper's ward of a Swiss maternity hospital, the second of Joyce and Nora Barnacle's two children. Her first language was Italian.
Clearly the inheritor of her father's artistry, Lucia was a modern dancer, a writer and an artist. She had a brief relationship with Samuel Beckett when he was her father's secretary. She wrote a novel which her family burned along with most of her correspondence.
Lucia inspired the character of Milly, Leopold Bloom's daughter in Ulysses and more importantly Anna Livia Plurabelle in Finnegans Wake. Her father was her protector and she was his inspiration. He felt that she understood what he was doing with Finnegans Wake more than anyone else and in fact was attempting to capture her way of thinking and speech.
In Ulysses, Bloom sends his daughter away to photography camp because he knows his wife his having an affair. Milly writes to her father but not to her Mother, Molly. Here is Milly's letter -
Thanks ever so much for the lovely birthday present. It suits me splendid. Everyone says I'm quite the belle in my new tam. I got mummy's lovely box of creams and am writing. They are lovely. I am getting on swimming in the photo business now. Mr Coghlan took one of me and Mrs. Will send when developed. We did great biz yesterday. Fair day and all the beef to the heels were in. We are going to lough Owel on Monday with a few friends to make a scrap picnic. Give my love to mummy and to yourself a big kiss and thanks. I hear them at the piano downstairs. There is to be a concert in the Greville Arms on Saturday. There is a young student comes here some evenings named Bannon his cousins or something are big swells and he sings Boylan's (I was on the pop of writing Blazes Boylan's) song about those seaside girls. Tell him silly Milly sends my best respects. I must now close with fondest love
P.S. Excuse bad writing am in hurry. Byby.
After Joyce died in 1941, her mother and brother had Lucia committed into a mental institution where she spent the rest of her life. She died in 1982. The extent of her mental illness, if she was mentally ill at all, is unknown, although she had been institutionalized for short periods previously. She had a volatile relationship with her mother who did not know how to encourage Lucia's artistic temperament and abilities the way her father did. Throughout her monologue in Ulysses, Molly Bloom (the stand in for Nora Barnacle) references to the many ways in which her adolescent daughter in all her budding beauty is beginning to annoy her: "I told her over and over again not to leave knives crossed like that because she has nobody to command her as she said herself well if he doesnt correct her faith I will that was the last time she turned on the teartap"
Lucia's brother Giorgio also attempted to commit his wife Helen, an American heiress, into a mental institution but her family protected her and they got a divorce instead.In many ways, Lucia's fate after her father's death is reminiscent of Sebastian Barry's beautiful and harrowing novel The Secret Scripture. Barry's novel dramatizes the life of a 100 year old woman and her wrongful decades long incarceration in a lunatic asylum in the West of Ireland. Like Loeb Shloss's biography of Lucia Joyce, The Secret Scripture reveals how society in recent history dealt with vulnerable but independent minded women with artistic sensibilities that they could not control.
Monday, May 17, 2010
James Joyce's Ulysses is a stylistically epic novel about a single day in Dublin, Ireland in 1904. Joyce experiments with every known literary style throughout this novel from Irish legends to children's primers from Dickensian prose to penny dreadful romance novels. In structure, Joyce mimics the heroic Greek tale of Odysseus. Each of the 18 chapters has a corresponding episode in the tale of Odysseus but Joyce's hero is Leopold Bloom, a middle class Irishman whose wife is having an affair. The story takes place on June 16, 1904 and covers the entirety of Leopold Bloom's day in Dublin from the frying of his morning breakfast to his drunken stumble into bed with a goodnight kiss to his wife's bottom.
Bloom is a turn of the century half Jewish Irish Bohemian with artistic inclinations, presently making a living selling newspaper advertisements. His wife Molly, a semi-professional singer is having an affair with her singing partner Blazes Boylan. His daughter Milly is away at photography camp. He knows his wife has a meeting with her lover that day so he stays away from the house all day and night. Molly and Bloom haven't slept together in ten years since their infant son Rudy died but he has a famously high libido and as a young man styled himself after Lord Byron.
Bloom's day starts by attending his friend, Paddy Dignam's funeral, he then runs around trying to get some work done, stops by the newspaper office, meets a few acquaintances along the way, sends a letter to his pen pal lover, has lunch, farts, is thrown out of a pub by the Citizen an anti-Semitic Irish nationalist, visits a friend's wife at the maternity hospital where he finally meets up with Stephen Dedalus, a young penniless poet with big ambitions and the third major character in the novel.
Stephen Dedalus actually opens Ulysses and in fact the first three chapters are devoted to him. The reading public first meets Stephen as the hero of James Joyce's novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. In Ulysses, Stephen is a few years older. His mother recently died and as an atheist, he famously refused to pray at her deathbed. A recent graduate of University, he is attempting to establish himself as a writer. At present he is a school teacher and lives with his friend Buck Mulligan at the Martello Tower by the sea. The novel opens at the Tower and the first chapter ends with Stephen deciding not to live there so annoyed is he by his friend Mulligan and their houseguest Haines, a Brit obsessed with Irish culture. In chapter two, we see Stephen at school with his student and with an anti-semitic older teacher who asks his help in publishing a letter. Chapter Three is a monologue devoted entirely to Stephen. He and Molly are the only two characters to have a full chapter devoted to their stream of conscious thoughts.
Bloom is a father figure to Stephen. Stephen's own father, a gifted tenor, is an unemployed drunk responsible for the family's penury. They visit many of the same spots during the day, the newspaper, the beach, the streets of Dublin narrowly missing each other until they both find themselves at Holles Street Maternity Hospital in the evening. Together they get drunk and wander very late in the night into Nighttown, Dublin's red light district and into the whore house of Madame Bella Cohen. The episode is written through the drunken eyes of its two male leads.
Eventually, Bloom and Stephen make their way to Bloom's house, stopping to piss on the road together, but Stephen refuses Bloom's offer of shelter and heads out into the night as Bloom crawls into bed with Molly. The chapter describing the end of Bloom's day is written in question and answer format mimicking a Catholic Catechism. The final chapter is Molly's 8 sentence 3 hour monologue about her day, her life, her love for Bloom.
Friday, May 14, 2010
James Joyce (1882-1941) is a Dublin born writer who spent most of his career in exile in Western Europe. He had a beautiful singing voice and at first dreamed of being a professional singer. Full of musical references, much of his writing has a lyrical quality and is often infinitely more enjoyable to say nothing of understandable when it is read aloud. After Joyce placed only second in a University singing competition where the celebrated Irish tenor John McCormack placed first, he abandoned his dreams of singing and decided instead to change the face of literature with his writing. Above all he was an artist who from the very first was shooting for all the marbles, aiming for his place in literary history whatever the cost to himself and his financial well being.
Joyce was born the oldest of ten surviving children on February 2, 1882 into a poor but educated family in Dublin, Ireland. His alcoholic father was frequently jobless; his mother, an accomplished pianist obsessed by the Roman Catholic Church. He was educated by the Jesuits at Belvedere College in North Dublin and later graduated from University College Dublin. One of his first publications was an essay about the dramatist Ibsen.
Joyce fled Ireland in 1904 with his longtime companion, a Galway chamber maid named Nora Barnacle with whom he had two children, Giorgio and Lucia. They only married in 1931 when their children were adults for legal reasons. He never made much money throughout his career, and his children were born in the poverty ward of the Trieste hospital. His brother Stanislaus joined the family in Switzerland for sometime so that he could get a job and help support them. The above photo is taken in Paris of Joyce with his publisher Sylvia Beach at her bookshop Shakespeare and Company. Beach did what she could to help support the family financially. When they had money, they spent it on life's small pleasures, good food and wine and clothes.
Joyce's first publication was a book of poems, Chamber Music (1907) which WB Yeats encouraged him in pursuing. His first collection of short stories The Dead (1914) was followed by his novel of artistic awakening, A Portrait of an Artists as a Young Man (1916). Ulysses was first published in 1922 when it was critically lauded and then burned and banned in America. Throughout his life, Joyce struggled with his eyesight, eventually going nearly blind. Finnegans Wake appeared in 1931 and was infinitely more experimental than Ulysses. To Joyce's great disappointment, it did not receive the critical acclaim that his previous novel did. After fleeing Paris during World War II, Joyce died in Switzerland on January 13, 1941.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Bloomsday is a literary holiday. It is celebrated each year on June 16th commemorating the day that James Joyce's epic novel, Ulysses, takes place - on June 16th, 1904. Joyce chose this date for his novel in honor of the first time he went out walking with his future wife, Galway girl, Nora Barnacle the inspiration for the character of Molly Bloom.
Ulysses is considered by many to be the greatest novel of the twentieth century. Certainly, it popularized the stream of conscious monologue within literary texts. James Joyce was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1882. He spent most of his writing life in exile in Paris and Zurich where he died in 1941.
On Bloomsday every year, actors, writers and readers of all sorts get together and read Ulysses aloud. These celebrations take place onstage, in the street, in private homes, on the beach and in our case, broadcast live on the radio from 7pm to 2am on WBAI, 99.5FM or wbai.org anywhere in the world.
One of the most famous chapters in Ulysses is the final Penelope episode or the Molly Bloom monologue which takes place as Molly is lying in bed, thinking about her day, her lovers, her life. Consisting of eight very long run on sentences without punction, Molly Boom's solilquoy is a sexy, powerful, magical piece that takes 3 hours to perform. Caraid O'Brien will be performing the entire Molly Bloom monologue this year beginning at 11pm.
In the photo above, the actress Marilyn Monroe reads Molly Bloom's thoughts from Ulysses.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Radio Bloomsday will be broadcast live on WBAI 99.5FM on Wednesday night June 16, 2010 from 7pm until 2am. You can listen anywhere on the world at www.wbai.org. Artists will perform selections from James Joyce's Ulysses as well as other works of world literature related to the book through spoken and song.
Radio Bloomsday is made possible, in part, by funds from the National Endowment for the Arts. A great nation deserves great art.