We’re really excited to be marking Bloomsday on Saturday with a special Beatroot Rendez-Vouz event at the Prince Albert in Stroud. For those of you who are justifiably wondering, “What the hell is Bloomsday?” — well, I’ll tell you.
Bloomsday is a celebration of James Joyce’s landmark novel Ulysses. The action of the novel takes place on one day: 16 June 1904, and closely follows the movements and thoughts of its primary and peripheral characters (many of them real Dubliners) on an ordinary day in Dublin. One of these primary characters is Leopold Bloom — hence the name”Bloomsday”. The 16th of June was, in fact, the day Joyce met his wife-to-be, Nora Barnacle.
The novel caused a great uproar when it was first published, largely due to its stark depiction of the stuff of everyday life; including eating, drinking, pissing, shitting, daydreaming about sex, wanking, getting drunk and singing, getting drunk and crying, getting drunk and trying it on with the object of your desire, getting drunk and fighting in the street — namely, the things that real people do in real life.
Such offensive material was considered by the bulwarks of virtue to be obscene and damaging to society, and was therefore banned in the US and UK, until elderly men in black robes decided to acknowledge that Ulysses is a titan of modernist literature, and not just dimestore smut.
Every 16th of June since 1954, poets, authors, artists and punters who just love the book have marked Bloomsday in Dublin (and abroad) by following in the characters’ footsteps, drinking in the same pubs, eating the same sandwiches — possibly even using the same loos. Many follow the route the characters travelled in the book, between Sandymount (a seaside suburb of Dublin) and a meandering trail around the inner city.
For example, many people flock to Davey Byrne’s pub on South Anne Street at 11:30am to have a gorgonzola sandwich and a glass of burgundy — the very fare in the very same pub enjoyed by Leopold Bloom in the novel. Enthusiasts dressed in period attire will then read aloud from that chapter, often acting out the narrative.
Basically, it’s a bit of fun. I was lucky enough to be living in Dublin on the 100th anniversary of the day Ulysses takes place. It was like a much more sober — and more genuinely Irish — St Patrick’s Day. I’ve celebrated it ever since. This year, I’m chuffed that I’ll have some of my mates from Dublin here in Stroud to celebrate it with me.
Join the Facebook event here.