Doesn’t James Joyce look dapper?!
James Joyce set his rambling modern novel Ulysses on June 16, and today literary lovers around the world celebrate the iconic Irish author with marathon readings (it is about 265,000 words long!) and pub crawls. The raucous literary holiday takes its name from the central character of the novel: Leopold Bloom. The title of Joyce’s book, on the other hand, comes from the Latin version of Odysseus. Apparently, this is because he discovered the story of The Odyssey through Charles Lamb’s children’s book adaptation, Adventures of Ulysses. Just like that cunning Greek Odysseus embarked on adventure that introduced him to a wide variety of characters, Leopold Bloom traversed Dublin and met characters that paralleled those found in The Odyssey.
I thought it would be fun to share a few beautiful and provocative quotes from James Joyce’s Ulysses:
- “Every life is in many days, day after day. We walk through ourselves, meeting robbers, ghosts, giants, old men, young men, wives, widows, brothers-in-love. But always meeting ourselves.”
- “People could put up with being bitten by a wolf but what properly riled them was a bite from a sheep.”
- “She would follow, her dream of love, the dictates of her heart that told her he was her all in all, the only man in all the world for her for love was the master guide. Come what might she would be wild, untrammelled, free.”
- “The heaventree of stars hung with humid nightblue fruit.”
- “A region where grey twilight ever descends, never falls on wide sagegreen pasturefields, shedding her dusk, scattering a perennial dew of stars.”
Those last two quotes remind me of one of my favorite lines from Jack Kerouac’s On the Road:
- “Soon it got dusk, a grapy dusk, a purple dusk over tangerine groves and long melon fields; the sun the color of pressed grapes, slashed with burgandy red, the fields the color of love and Spanish mysteries.”
I’ve written about James Joyce’s influence on Jack Kerouac a few times before so today in celebration of Bloomsday, here are the links:
- In Is Jack Kerouac a Modern Heir of James Joyce? I take a stab at offering Kerouac up to a question posed by The New York Times Sunday Book Review.
- In When Two Words Become One, I write about Joyce’s and Kerouac’s word amalgamations and daringly suggest that writers should tweak and invent their own words.
- In Homer and Kerouac, I provide a few links that show how the character of Odysseus has popped up in literature, including James Joyce’s work.
- In Ramblin’ Jack: Just Because You Don’t Like a Book Doesn’t Mean It Isn’t Well Written, I compare one of the most famous quotes from On the Road to a very similar passage in Ulysses.
For Bloomsday activities around the globe, check out The James Joyce Centre Dublin. I want to highlight a few that I found particularly relevant to the themes I write about:
- In Athens, there will be a free screening of a poetical film based on Joyce’s Greek notebooks.
- In Manhattan, Symphony Space is putting on an event that features Malachy McCourt, Colum McCann, Cynthia Nixon and others.
- In Brooklyn, there will be a pub crawl.
- In St. Petersburg (the Florida city where Jack Kerouac died), there will be readings and performances.
Have you ever participated in a Bloomsday event? What is your favorite quote by James Joyce?