This Summer, some friends of mine and I will be reading through James Joyce’s Ulysses–a mid-century modernist juggernaut that’s considered by many to be the greatest novel in the English language–and I want to invite all of you to join us. Feel free to pass this post (and its accompanying Google Doc) to anyone and everyone you think might be interested. You can purchase the book here.
The Bloomsday 2019 Kick-Off
Ulysses is at it most basic level, about one 24-hour period on June 16th, 1904 in the life of Leopold Bloom. For book nerds, that calendar day has subsequently been dubbed “Bloomsday”. Here in Philadelphia, there is a library and museum called The Rosenbach which has one of the only complete manuscripts ofUlysses, handwritten by Joyce. Every June 16th they throw a massive day-long block party celebrating Irish culture and James Joyce.
Our little reading group will begin on Bloomsday 2019, and we invite anyone in or near Philadelphia to come to The Rosenbach to party. We’ll then read through the book and, for those interested and able, we’ll occasionally meet in various Irish cafes and pubs around Philly to talk about the book. I’ll also try and blog a bit through the book here.
This is meant to be fun, not a chore
Ulysses is a big, odd book. It’s full of allusions and symbolism and trick of language that make it incredibly difficult for people to read. If you have any experience with Joyce, you know that there is no such thing as a straightforward meander through any of his tomes. Joyce worked tirelessly on each of his books, and he expects his readers to do some work as well.
But we must remember that he had a great sense of humor as well; he was not a product of the academy and much of what seems like pretentiousness in his books is meant to antagonize those that would take him too seriously. His tricks, allusions, obscurities, and oddities are chiefly meant to be >fun–not annoying.
Choose your own adventure (for free!)
But to aid in the fun, some background knowledge can be helpful. To this end, in the Google Doc below, I offer the a reading schedule, free resources to download, and background info for you choose your own adventure through the book. It isn’t necessary to dive into all of these at once. Neither this blog post nor the Google Doc are going away. You can bookmark them and return as needed.
So make this is easy or in-depth as you want; but above all–have some fun. Joyce would want it that way.