June the sixteenth, 16th June, Bloomsday. A day to celebrate the meeting on that date in 1904, of James Joyce and Nora Barnacle, a young Galway lass working as a chambermaid in Finn's Hotel in Dublin.
They walked on the beach at Sandymount. Within a few months they had run off together to Europe and she remained his partner and his muse for the rest of his life. His gift to her was to immortalise that day as the single day in which the entire action of his masterpiece Ulysses takes place from one side of Edwardian Dublin to the other.
This year there was no need to go to Dublin to re-enact the scene of Bloom feeding the seagulls at the O'Connel Bridge. There are herring gulls nesting on the highest chimneys of the house beyond the reach of all attempts at dislodgement.
Bloomsday visits have been to what is still very recognisably the city Joyce knew, have been greatly enjoyed in the past but this year I'll have to be satisfied with listening to a download of the BBC dramatisation of the novel and the glass of burgundy with gorgonzola cheese of Bloom's lunch at Davy Byrne's pub. ( It was Stilton that was available but it's all blue cheese)
|Davy Byrne's pub|
A breakfast of fried pork kidneys would have been a bit to much!
Joyce's stream of consciousness writing, recurrent themes, symbolism and parallels with Homer's original make for re-reading of the novel again and again. Every time, another jewel surfaces from the prose like gold in river gravel.
We followed the trail of Homer's Ulysses through the Mediterranean last summer (Blog 27 /10/17 ) Maybe next June we'll go back to Dublin and trace the paths of Joyce's heroes again.