June 16: Bloomsday

James JoyceToday in Dublin, Ireland, hundreds of Dubliners will dress in turn-of-the-last-century costumes, take part in marathon book readings and hold street parties to mark the fictional events of June 16, 1904, as depicted in that classic of modern literature, James Joyce’s Ulysses.

The Odyssey inspired book tells the stream of conscious tale of Leopold Bloom’s day as he treks around Dublin and eventually returns to his wife, Molly; but the book isn’t really about the plot: Ulysses is perhaps best known for the puns, puzzles, allusions and highly experimental writing techniques (including a final chapter, written as a soliloquy for Molly Bloom, that consists of eight incredibly lengthy run-on sentences with very little punctuation) that Joyce employs throughout the novel.

In reality, the date of June 16, 1904 was the date of Joyce’s first outing with his future wife Nora Barnacle (it appears Joyce decided to make a little joke by setting the events of Ulysses on that day). The first Bloomsday celebration was held on June 16, 1954, when a few artistic types and Joyce’s cousin Tom Joyce, a dentist, assigned themselves roles from the novel and attempted to make a pilgrimage to the places and pubs in Dublin that Bloom visited in the novel. Unfortunately, this cause was abandoned due to high intoxication, but the Bloomsday idea caught on and became an annual tradition.

Bloomsday is such a well known occasion that Mel Brooks named one of the protagonists of his 1968 film The Producers Leo Bloom, and when he later made a film of the musical version of The Producers in 2005, he included a scene where Leo Bloom asks “When will it be Bloom’s day?” while standing in front of a calendar displaying the page labeled “June

For a Bloomsday drink, I recommend either a nice Guinness or most fittingly a James Joyce, a good strong drink made with Irish whiskey that I think you’ll greatly enjoy, yes I say yes you will Yes:

James Joyce

  • 1 1/2 ounces Irish Whiskey
  • 1/2 ounce lime juice
  • 3/4 ounce Sweet Vermouth
  • 3/4 ounce Triple Sec

Shake all ingredients in a cocktail shaker half filled with ice, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Tomorrow: Somebody breaks into a hotel in Washington D. C.




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