Lately I’ve been setting ambitious goals for myself: Move to Philadelphia. Find a New Job. Run a Marathon. Adding to my list of ambitious goals is my recent obsession with actually reading Ulysses all the way through. It’s one of those intimidating books that is on my “things I want to do before I die” checklist and is something akin to the holy grail of Literature. I decided recently that this year is as good as any to cross this life goal off my list and I’ve decided that after I finish The Pale King and perhaps another quick book, I’m going to plunge right into Ulysses.
festivities in Philadelphia. What’s Bloomsday, you ask? Bloomsday started on June 16th, 1954, on the 50th anniversary of the original day in which Ulysses takes place and is called Bloomsday after the protagonist of Ulysses: Leopold Bloom. The event is celebrated not just in Dublin but in many cities around the world and the day serves as an homage to both James Joyce as well as his influential and controversial novel.
In Philadelphia, Bloomsday is a popular event and with good reason. In 1924, Dr. A. S. W. Rosenbach bought James Joyce’s original handwritten manuscript of Ulysses at an auction for $1,975. The reasons for this purchase remain murky, since Dr. Rosenbach was not professionally involved in publishing or literature, however the novel must have had special personal meaning to him because it was never put back up for sale, even when James Joyce himself inquired about the possibility of buying back the manuscript.
Because of this rare cultural legacy, the Rosenbach Museum and Library leads the Bloomsday festivities in Philadelphia every year, featuring an all day reading Ulysses in its entirety by prominent Philadelphians and an exhibition of rare 1st edition copies of Ulysses and other Joyce novels, photographs, letters and memorabilia. Combine this with pub crawls and people dressed up in period costumes and this is my idea of a fantastically nerdy time.
As of last Saturday, I have two months to finish a 700ish page book, which theoretically shouldn’t be a problem if I can stick with it. I do, however, envision lots of frustrated cursing in my future. Anyone else interested in doing the Bloomsday Challenge with me? Or if you've read Ulysses, any advice or resources you'd recommend?
And in the event you're interested:
Ulysses by James Joyce on Amazon