James Joyce, author of the epic novel "Ulysses," has amassed a following of epic proportions since his novel's 1922 publication. On Thursday, Joyce enthusiasts around the world will convene for Bloomsday, an annual celebration of the novelist and his work. Named after the book’s protagonist Leopold Bloom, Bloomsday has been taking place each year since 1954 on June 16, the single date on which the novel, set in Dublin, Ireland, takes place. This year holds particular significance for Joyce fans since it falls on Thursday, the same day the novel takes place.
Following is a guide to Bloomsday celebrations around the city this Thursday:
A Bloomsday Invitation: Ulysses Meets Twitter 2011 Joyce enthusiasts can now celebrate this annual event from the comfort of their homes and Wi-Fi hot spots, train cars and cubicles if they're on Twitter. Steve Cole, who is the brains behind "Ulysses Meets Twitter 2011," has asked social networkers to tweet this epic novel in excerpts of 140 characters at a time over a 24-hour period. Cole launched a blog and Twitter account to announce the experiment in January, saying Joyce "broke down the typical narrative structure of novels and somehow found ways to show more about people than I had seen before.” Since January, nearly 70 “cast members” from around the world have assumed responsibility for “tweading” the tale, which was split up into 96 parts for the occasion. Twitter users can wake up and fall asleep to these excerpts by following @11ysses. The cast of "tweaders" includes a Brooklyn comedian and writer, a Northeastern University student, a writer based in Sydney, Australia, an artist living in the Basque Country of Spain and a number of English Literature majors and professors. As for Cole, he’ll be celebrating Bloomsday in a high-tech way, making sure that each tweet goes out on time. “That will be my job on Bloomsday, all 24 hours of it. Crazy,” he said. Segments will begin on the quarter hour and end on the next quarter hour, with the event kicking off at 8 A.M. Dublin Time (3 A.M. ET) on Thursday.
A Bloomsday Breakfast in Bryant Park Start your day off right with a Bloomsday Breakfast sponsored by Culture Ireland and the Irish Arts Center. First, head to the Upper Terrace at Bryant Park and eat a complementary Irish breakfast courtesy of Tommy Maloney’s in a recreation of the novel’s opening scene. The event features readings from the book and musical performances by Songs of Joyce. Readers include James Newman, “Tony” from this year’s MTV production of Skins; Terry George, director and Academy Award nominated writer of Hotel Rwanda; and Isaiah Sheffer, founding artistic director of Symphony Space. One hundred copies of "Ulysses" will also be donated to the New York Public Library, Queens Public Library, Brooklyn Public Library and Bryant Park reading room. And if that weren’t enough to get you in the Bloomsday spirit, event organizers are encouraging attendees to arrive in Edwardian vintage attire that Leopold Bloom might have modeled — anything from a cane or parasol to a white suit or floor length white dress will do. The event is free, and although walk-ins are welcome, prospective attendees are encouraged to RSVP to email@example.com or to (212) 757-3318 ext 202. Starts at 8 A.M. on Thursday, in Manhattan.
Ulysses’ Folk House Bloomsday Celebration Ulysses’ Folk House, an aptly named bar in the financial district, is celebrating both Bloomsday and its eighth birthday this Thursday. Special literary guests are slated to make appearances and readings will take place throughout the day. From 5:30 P.M., the bar will host an event entitled “Just a Song at Twilight,” featuring live DJ sets. If your appetite goes beyond the pages of the classic novel, make sure to take advantage of the bar’s Carvery Lunch from 11:30 A.M. to 3 P.M., which offers patrons tastings from Dublin and a complimentary glass of Burgundy and gorgonzola. Two rounds of complimentary drinks are also up for grabs from 4 to 5:30 P.M. and from 12 to 1 A.M. Although the festivities kick off at 11:30 A.M., the event has been designated for adults only. On Thursday, in Manhattan.
Iabany Bloomsday Celebration The Irish American Bar Association of NY is putting a legal spin on celebrating Joyce’s literature. Rather than read "Ulysses," the Bar Association will produce a re-enactment of USA vs. One Book Called Ulysses, the historic 1933 obscenity case concerning the novel. The Hon. Gerald E. Lynch will play Judge John Woolsey, who, on the grounds of the First Amendment, dismissed claims that the book was pornographic and obscene. District Attorney Chales J. Hynes will perform as prosecutor Sam Coleman and General Counsel Lynn Oberlander will play defense lawyer Morris Ernst. Preceding the re-enactment, keynote speaker and former Dean of Stanford Law School Kathleen Sullivan will deliver the John Quinn Memorial Address entitled “Our Extravagant Free Speech Tradition.” The event will take place at 60 Centre St. at the NYC Supreme Court Rotunda. Although it is free, prospective attendees must RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. Kicks off at 6 P.M. on Thursday, in Manhattan.
Staten Island OutLOUD Bloomsday Celebration Hosted at the Everything Goes Book Cafe on 208 Bay St., this annual event attracts a diverse group of Joyce readers and is free and open to the public. Unlike its counterparts, this celebration is comprised of participatory readings of "Ulysses," meaning that anyone who attends the event will have the opportunity the read a portion of the epic. Music performed live by Caroline Cutroneo and Bobaloo Basey will complement the book and its early 20th century Irish setting. Cutrone will perform two songs that are mentioned in "Ulysses," while Basey will improvise musical interludes on the Irish penny whistle in between each chapter of the novel. Staten Island OutLOUD has specified the evening as an adult-only event. Kicks off at 7:30 P.M., on Thursday, in Staten Island.
Bloomsday at the Lyceum This free event at the Brooklyn Lyceum features excerpts from the novel read by Joycean scholar Emmet Mc Gowan. Organizers have ironically dedicated the evening to The New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, which broached a campaign to keep the book out of the United States because of its supposedly obscene content. Attendees are encouraged to bring along their own copies of the book, and drinks will be available beginning at 8 P.M. on Thursday, in Brooklyn.
If you are looking to find out more about Bloomsday, BloomsdayNYC.org features a number of resources for novel readers and experts of the novel alike. If you're on the site on Thursday, you won't be the only one, according to one of the creators of the site, Enam Hoque.
“With little to no advertising.... [the] site increases in traffic every year,” he said. “We’ve even had server issues this year, which I consider to be a sign of success.”
Hoque, who read "Ulysses" as a sophomore in college (and has read it a few times since), is an exemplary Joyce enthusiast.
“It’s just a great story, a superb piece of writing and, at least to me, a wonderful tribute to love,” he said.
WNYC will also be celebrating Bloomsday in collaboration with Symphony Space for the 30th annual Bloomsday on Broadway. This marathon reading event will feature over 100 actors and all 18 of the novel’s episodes. WNYC will begin to stream it live on WNYC 93.9 FM at 8 P.M. More information can be found here.