Bloomsday, June 16th, is an annual celebration of James Joyce's Ulysses. Of course it's best to attend in Dublin, but if you live in the U.S. you can still have a wonderful time. The events of Leopold Bloom's day (Ulysses takes place on June 16) are celebrated in at least sixty countries. There are readings, re-enactments, walks, one-act plays, Irish dance, and more.
We were passing through Buffalo, visiting friends. Buffalo is a lakefront city, known for Rust Belt unemployment and the iniquitous Love Canal. What they don't tell you is that there's a gorgeous lakefront, a city park called Delaware Park (350 acres near Delaware Avenue, Buffalo's Mansion Row), many excellent art museums, a Frank Lloyd Wright historic house, a great public library, and the Anchor Bar, home of the Buffalo chicken wings..
There is also an enthusiastic James Joyce group.
The year we were there it was 40 degrees. It was global colding that summer. In the bar there were people milling and thronging, drinking beer, leafing through books, and listening intently to enthusiastic readings by volunteers on the small stage. You could feel their ardor.
We're in the Midwest now. There are Bloomsday events in Kansas City and Chicago, but I've been looking on the internet in vain for closer events in Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, or Wisconsin, so tell me if you know of any.
This year my goal is to finish Ulysses before Bloomsday (which may end up as a quiet day of reading in our home).
I thought there was plenty of time. I couldn't find my book, so I started reading the 673-page Project Gutenberg edition. It was eerie, but it didn't feel right. My hair was practically standing on end. At first I thought it was the e-book layout. Then I flipped back to the beginning. And of course the Project Gutenberg edition is "based on the pre-1923 edition." Passages have been elided.
My husband told me he would buy me a new copy if I made ravioli tomato soup. While I was busy chopping vegetables, he found my book. It's not the Gabler edition, which they use in Buffalo, but the 1961 edition. The passages I remembered are here.
I'm amazed by what Joyce went through to get his book published. Sylvia Beach, the owner of Shakespeare and Company, a bookstore in Paris, published Ulysses in 1922. Joyce later signed on with another publisher, leaving her in debt. Then there were the obscenity trials. My copy has the 1933 decision of the "U.S. District Court by Judge John M. Woolsey lifting the ban on the entry of Ulysses into the United States."
I should probably read some criticism this year, too. Any suggestions? (Something under $20.)