Worldwide celebrations of the 100th birthday of James Joyce’s Ulysses


A series of events are taking place in the literary world today to mark the 100th anniversary of the publication of James Joyce’s Ulysses. Our arts and media correspondent Sinéad Crowley looks at how the birthday of this most influential novel is celebrated.

A day in the life, a map of the city of Dublin, a meditation on relationships, the parallel journey of an epic poem – these are just a tiny number of the elements that make it up Ulyssesis considered one of the most important and influential novels ever written.

The book follows the character of Leopold Bloom as he moves through an ordinary day in Dublin on June 16, 1904. The title “Ulysses” refers to this The Odyssey and the book draws on a range of styles and pioneering literary techniques.

A copy of the very first edition of Ulysses published in 1922

Originally mass-produced between 1918 and 1920 The little reviewThe seminal modernist text was first published in its entirety by Sylvia Beach, owner of the bookshop Shakespeare and Company in Paris, on February 2, 1922, the author’s 40th birthday.

Although initially viewed with suspicion by countries such as the author’s home country of Ireland, the book is now read and studied around the world and it, and Joyce himself, has become an integral part of Ireland’s cultural tourism industry. Scholars and readers from around the world travel to Dublin to follow in Bloom’s footsteps, and it is fitting that this centenary takes place as the capital looks forward to once again welcoming national and international visitors.

Although today marks the 100th anniversary of its release, celebrations will take place throughout the rest of the year Culture and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the National Library and UCD.MOLI will also host the launch of a new film installation, Love, says Bloomcurated by Nuala O’Connor, whose book about Joyce’s wife Nora Barnacle was selected as Dublin’s One City One Book title for 2022. Joyce loved music – in fact he once attended the Feis Ceoil – and the film features today’s musicians singing some of the Joyce family’s favourites.

James Joyce and Nora Barnacle in 1930

Another musical tribute are six specially commissioned pieces from the Contemporary Music Center in Ireland. Justified Ulysses Voyage 2022the musical and film works are presented by the CMC in association with the Center Culturel Irlandais in Paris and simultaneous premieres are tonight at the CCI and the IFI in Dublin.

Other activities taking place tonight in Paris include the launch of an e-book at exactly 20:22 local time, while birthday celebrations take place at the current location of the iconic Shakespeare and Company bookshop.

Meanwhile, back in Dublin, just like on Bloomsday, the Joyceans will gather at places mentioned in the book, including Davy Byrne’s Pub near Grafton Street, to celebrate the occasion.

For those unable to travel to Paris – or even Dublin – RTÉ has ​​planned a wide range of programming on TV, radio and online to mark the 100th anniversary. This includes a special edition of nationwide tonight and a new television documentary by the late historian Frank Callanan. Full details of RTÉ programming can be found here, along with classic Joyce-related material from the RTÉ archives.

A post office has issued a pair of new Ulysses stamps

But what about those who haven’t read the book yet — or maybe feel intimidated? James Joyce and his work can be seen on tea towels, posters and postage stamps, but for many the thought of actually engaging with the dense text and all its illusions and allusions is extremely intimidating.

The answer, says Darina Gallagher of the James Joyce Center in Dublin, may be to simply let the words overwhelm you. A number of audio versions of Ulysses are now available, giving the listener full access to its rhythms and tones. For a totally immersive experience of the day it contains, listeners can turn to the book’s 1982 recording, now available on the RTE website. With a full cast of RTÉ players, the thirty hours of recording could accompany you throughout the day, or even while strolling along Sandymount beach, and could be the ideal way to wish this novel a happy birthday.


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