11 Aug

To all of you who are familiar with Leopold Bloom, you will know that James Joyce immortalized him in Ulysses. A work of fiction that recounts Leopold Bloom as he wends his way around the city of Dublin in one day, in as detailed a way as possible.

The day Leopold decided to take his walk, Joyce captured every minor event and instant. Every fragmentary thought process, directionless flight of fancy, and irrelevant detail noticed along the way. There is endlessly diverting narrative, distraction after distraction with no possible conversation or observation omitted.

There are so many constellated wealth’s of minor points, that realism becomes a useless haze. And yet, I wonder if anyone has ever read this book cover to cover. I suppose once the obvious absurdity of it wears off, one could find it clever. And apparently, someone has. Some many someones have.

“ The day was 16 June 1954, and though it was only mid-morning, Brian O’Nolan was already drunk.”

(I love this line)

From The Pen of Myles Na Gopaleen aka Flan O’Brien aka Brian O’Neal

To mark the fictional occasion, in 1954 a small group of Dublin literati gathered in Sandycove just below the Martello Tower where the opening scene of Joyce’s novel is set. The plan was to visit all scenes depicted in the novel during the span of one day, just as Leopold had done.

Sandymount Beach, Dublin
(photographer unknown to Wordman)

Pictured are, from your left: John Ryan (1925–1992) an artist, and founder of Envoy, a Review of Literature and Art; Anthony Cronin (1928- ) Irish Poet and critic; Flann O’Brian (Brian O’Nolan) (1911-1966), an Irish novelist and satirist whom sadly, no one expected to be sober; Patrick Kavanagh (1904-1967), Irish poet and Novelist; and Tom Joyce, a dentist who, as Joyce’s cousin, represented the family interest.

They were all assigned roles from the novel, and then they were off, along the seafront of Dublin Bay, and into the city. Unfortunately, they all succumbed to inebriation at the Bailey Pub, which Ryan then owned, and had to give up their Leopold Odyssey. How decadent!

And so, every year since 1954 on June 16, James Joyce and his novel come alive, and Leopold Bloom walks the streets of Dublin again through those who dress the parts and walk the walk.


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