It's that time of year again, June 16th means it's Bloomsday. Alas, I have never had the opportunity to frock up in fine Edwardian garb and take to the streets of Dublin. I'd feel like I was cheating, so i'll wait until I've read Ulysses first, but that'll most likely be another decade.
Bloomsday makes me a little proud to be Irish, but like Joyce I suffer a bit from remaining within the country. To explore fully how much he loved Ireland, he needed to excape from its stifling provincialism. He stated, "When I die Dublin will be written in my heart." It always makes me smirk when I see Irish Ferries advertisements using Beckett and Joyce quotes twisted to convey a positive message about travelling to Ireland, when in actuality they couldn't get out fast enough. I'm the same, I like to think. I have romantic notions, except when I'm away I can't stop thinking about the place. I have a love/hate relationship with home. If I leave, I will come back some day. No doubt. I'm not making much sense here but what I am trying (and failing) to express is that I find remaining here stifling, but I am Irish through and through, nothing can match our distinctive black humour and laid back but self concious-curious attitude to life.
I've always loved this image. What a poster girl for Joyce!
Now I'm going to be naughty and dispel all your idealised romanticized notions of the author and Joyce, by directing you to his love (ahem) letters to Nora Barnacle. Everyone's human after all. Each to his own, I guess! I hope the medium of the love letter isn't dead! Nothing can replace setting your hearts sentiments to paper, or your desires, in Joyce's case.
These are scattered throughout the city of Dublin. You could be standing on a street corner, pondering your next destination when your foot strikes something unfamiliar and you look down to see this beneath your feet, or when striding over O' Connell Bridge. It makes me smile appreciatively for the city and how one man's book essentially was a love letter to life and the city he knew so well.
Ladies and Gents, take a cue from Leopold Bloom and start donning a bowler!
To end this on a positive note, here's the ever beautiful Anjelica Huston as Gretta in The Dead (1987):
One day I'll celebrate Bloomsday, and by golly you'll hear about it. Better start looking for that corset, then maybe reading the book.