Bloomsday, held annually on 16 June, marks the day in which the life of Irish writer, James Joyce, is celebrated. The 16th of June is not the date of Joyce’s death or birth – it’s actually the day on which the events of his most famous novel, Ulysses, are set.
I’m sure, like a lot of other events on the Irish calendar, some people use Bloomsday as an excuse for a party (hey why not!), while others take it very seriously and gather for book readings and dramatizations. This isn’t any old book, but I find it quite amazing that these gatherings take place all over the world.
I started reading Ulysses late last year, probably some time around October. I read through maybe 150 of the 800 or so pages of the book, before I needed to take a break from it. Many experts on the book will tell you it’s a difficult novel to read and they are quite right. There are guides to help you have a better reading experience by helping you understand the book, and would you believe, there’s even some guides for the guides!
I’ll admit that I had a difficult time understanding a lot of what was going on in the book. The guide I bought certainly did help a bit, as did a free iPhone App that I downloaded, but I started to lose a little bit of interest due to the complexity.
Multiple sources give recommendations on how to read the book. Some say read through it once, then read whatever guide they recommend, then re-read the book. Others say start with a guide, then read Ulysses. And another method suggested was to read the book in parrallel with a guide, kind of like using a dictionary, to get the best understanding. It all sounds like a lot of work to read a book, don’t you agree!
The method I employed was reading the guide and Ulysses in parallel, but I’m not in a position to give you advice on what works best, because I ended up putting the book down. I do fully intend to pick it back up though, and try to get through it.
For all you Jame Joyce fans out there – have a happy Bloomsday!
Have you read Ulysses? Do you have any tips you’d like to share to help me, or other readers, enjoy the book?