Little Bits of History

June 16

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 16, 2017

1904: Leopold Bloom shares his day. Leopold Bloom is the protagonist of James Joyce’s Ulysses. Bloom was the son of a Huganrian Jew who emigrated to Ireland and converted to Protestantism. He converted to Catholicism in order to marry. He awoke on this day and began his journey, his odyssey, through the streets of Dublin. Ulysses, the Roman version of the term Odysseus, is based on the Homeric poem and the 265,000 word book is divided into 18 episodes, each based on the trip outlined in the Odyssey. The tale first appeared in The Little Review as a serialized version between March 1918 and December 1920. It was published in its entirety by Sylvia Beach in Paris on February 2, 1922 which was Joyce’s fortieth birthday. It is considered one of the most important works of modern literature.

James Augustine Aloysius Joyce was also a short story writer from Rathgar, a suburb of Dublin. In his early twenties he moved to mainland Europe where he lived for the rest of his life. The family was relatively wealthy. As a boy, he was attacked by a dog, leaving him with a lifelong fear of the animal and after his aunt’s description of storms as God’s wrath, he also was terrorized by thunderstorms. Joyce was educated in Jesuit schools and was influenced by the philosophy or Thomas Aquinas. While in college, Joyce began his writing career in earnest, and even learned Norwegian in order to send a letter to Henrik Ibsen. After graduation, he left for Paris to study medicine, but soon abandoned it. Although raised in a Catholic home, by the age of twenty, he had abandoned his faith as well.

On June 16, 1904 he met Nora Barnacle, a chambermaid from Galway. It was his basis for choosing the date for his most famous work. He was drinking heavily and got into a fight. His father’s friend, Alfred Hunter, brought him home and cared for his injuries. Hunter was a Jew with an unfaithful wife, the basis for Leopold. In less than a week, he was in another altercation, packed his things, and took off with Nora in a self-imposed exile. The couple first moved to Switzerland where a job was supposed to be waiting; it wasn’t. They moved to Trieste and stayed there for the next ten years. In 1920, Ezra Pound invited the Joyce family to visit for a week. They lived in Paris for the next twenty years.

Ulysses, the stream of consciousness novel, was full of puns, parodies, and allusions, which Joyce hoped would keep literature professors busy for decades. It worked and the novel has a following worldwide with many arguing points from throughout the text. There have been at least eighteen editions, of various lengths, published. Each holds variations in different impressions. The first edition, with over 2,000 errors was said to still be the most accurate printed. Regardless of errors, intentional or not, the date is celebrated in Dublin and around the world as Bloomsday, in honor of Leopold Bloom.

There is no heresy or no philosophy which is so abhorrent to the church as a human being.

Art is the human disposition of sensible or intelligible matter for an aesthetic end.

To say that a great genius is half-mad, while recognizing his artistic prowess, is worth as much as saying that he was rheumatic, or that he suffered from diabetes. Madness, in fact, is a medical expression to which a balanced critic should pay no more heed than he would to the accusation of heresy brought by the theologian, or to the accusation of immorality brought by the public prosecutor.

Writing in English is the most ingenious torture ever devised for sins committed in previous lives. The English reading public explains the reason why. – all from James Joyce


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