What the Dickens is going to happen at the Euros?
Yesterday, June 8th, was the anniversary of the death of Charles Dickens ...
The national football team may have dropped a couple points at the Euros on Monday, but the Irish still have something to cheer this week in the form of Bloomsday - the annual celebration of anything and everything to do with James Joyce.
It takes place today, June 16th, and let’s face it, it’s not just Ireland that’ll be celebrating. Here at Wordsworth Towers we’re obviously having a small party (somebody pass the Ulysses cake) and a quick Google reveals official commemorations in places as far flung as the US, Hungary, Australia and the Czech Republic.
Bloomsday is an interesting commemoration for so many reasons, not least because rather than marking the birth or death of its subject, the subject chose the date himself. The term Bloomsday is taken from Ulysses’ protagonist Leopold Bloom, while the date references June 16th 1904 - the day depicted in the novel.
In Ireland, and particularly Dublin, the structure of the day itself is as set in stone as Christmas Day - celebrations start at 8am sharp and continue until people, well, go home. Fancy dress in the fashion of the Edwardian era is a common sight, as are readings and performances at the various Dublin locations featured in the book.
There’s also a special commemorative meal - an Irish fried breakfast with added liver and kidneys, the same breakfast taken by Bloom in the book. Mmm. And while not part of the ‘official’ order of service, we suspect Guinness may also be consumed. We’ll certainly be marking the occasion with a pint of stout. Or three.
It’s not just about Ulysses though. In fact, it’s not just about Ireland, with Joyce’s key works Dubliners (1914), A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Exiles (1918) and a big chunk of Ulysses written while he was living in Trieste. Joyce also took in Paris and latterly Zurich, where he died on January 13th 1941.
Nonetheless, the spirit of Ireland can be felt throughout Joyce’s writings. And spirit itself is something the man had in spades, given that throughout his career Joyce was dogged by rejections from publishers, suppression by censors, attacks by critics and readers misunderstanding his work.
So we salute you, James Augustus Aloysius Joyce. We hope you’re enjoying liver and kidneys, wherever you may be.