Here’s why it’s a big deal…
Ireland is known for its literature, and Ireland is known for its history of persecution via Norman & English invaders. Therefore, when Ireland’s literature is persecuted abroad or at home, its literature becomes iconic, a voice for the oppressed.
Bloomsday celebrates the banned book, Ulysses, by Éire’s native son, James Joyce, ergo, it is a huge festival in Ireland and internationally, courtesy the diaspora.
Addendum, as to why I celebrate: I’m Irish, but I am also a huge supporter of reading banned books. It’s important not to let someone else’s idea of “right” and “wrong” taint yours, and even if the books were banned with the “best” intentions, I believe we have every right to read them. (Also, the libraries would be depleted of books very quickly should every contested novel be ousted.)
this is my 1946 edition, courtesy a library book sale (and a Trinity knot necklace)
Here’s a quick history lesson…
16 June 1904 is celebrated as the 24 hour period in which Irish novelist James Joyce turned in the magnificent, bawdy and extremely dense novel Ulysses.
Ulysses has been both heralded by great authors and decried by noted reviewers alike, and was banned in the United States from 1922 until 1934 (the U.S. Espionage Act wreaked havoc on free speech during and after the First World War.)
Not to say there weren’t copies of the “obscene book” smuggled into the U.S.
Addendum: In the 2011 historical novel The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt (set in 1920’s New England & France), two young women go to Paris to have Joyce sign their copy of the novel; an interesting fact is the author of Scrapbook is the goddaughter of Sylvia Beach, Joyce’s publisher, in real life
and here’s Dubliners (1971 ed.) chillin’ in the living room
Here are synopses…
“Joyce’s Ulysses is a novel of eighteen “episodes,” all set in Dublin, Ireland, between 8:00 a.m. and 3:00 am, June 16-17, 1904. The three main characters are a young school teacher and aspiring writer named Stephen Dedalus (the main character of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man), a middle-aged Jewish advertising salesman named Leopold Bloom, and Leopold’s wife, Molly Bloom. During the composition of Ulysses Joyce compiled a working outline or “schema” indicating the title of each episode (each title taken from some character or incident in Homer’s Odyssey), the approximate time and place of its setting, and, for most of the episodes, the bodily organ, the “art,” the color, the symbol, and the “technic” (or technique) significant to each episode, as well as some of the correspondences between characters in Ulysses and in Homer’sOdyssey. In the schema Joyce also divided the book into three main sections, the “Telemachia”–episodes 1-3–the “Odyssey”–episodes 4-15–and the “Nostos”–episodes 16-18. In the brief summary that follows, each entry begins with the title Joyce gave the episode in the schema (these titles do not appear in Ulysses), followed by the time; scene; bodily organ; art; color; symbol; and technic. When Joyce did not include some category for an episode a — is used.”
(Courtesy Weldon Thornton and Morris Beja, Bucknell University)
Longer Synopsis (Extension of Quote Above)
Longest Synopsis (That One is Likely to Read)
…And here’s how far I’ve come as of today:
IT’S A WORK IN PROGRESS!