“the very style of Ulysses serves as a constant reminder of its author’s genius”

Happy Bloomsday! Pete will no doubt be along at some point with the traditional video entertainment, and I’ve a few other pieces put aside for the day that’s in it, but for now, if you are one of the permanently bewildered, here’s the Paris Review’s explaination

In particular, and sticking to an Irish political theme, I liked this bit:

The event can be stately and meticulous or raucous and chaotic—or, somehow, all of the above. A telling instance came a few years ago, when the Irish Arts Center arranged a Bloomsday picnic in New York’s Bryant Park, under the rueful shadow of the Gertrude Stein statue. (Stein disliked Joyce.)

Aspiring Broadway types were enlisted to circulate in period costume before bursting into popular songs from 1900-era Ireland. I spoke to one of the performers, a young Irish actor who had recently moved to New York. Had she read Ulysses? “I plan to,” she said, and in my memory, she adds, “I’m told it’s a grand book by them that knows.”

The kicker was when the Irish finance minister, in town for summit meetings, got up to say that his government would take as inspiration the balanced daily budget that appears in Ulysses. The problem? Leopold Bloom’s spreadsheet in Ulysses works out only because he omits the money he’s paid to Bella Cohen’s brothel. No one pointed out the irony.

Go read the whole thing


  • SeaanUiNeill

    Over on the thread “HBO’s Michael Lombardo: “Belfast is not the most cosmopolitan of cities to spend half of the year”, ” Gopher reminds me that “Imagination still has to eat Seaan and that is the problem the creative (sic) mouths the Government feeds with grants are not necessarily the best.” Joyce noticeably was able to concentrate on writing because that “fascist”, the poet Ezra Pound collected a subscription for him that, when invested, produced an income that ensured the freedom from grafting that permitted Joyce to experiment.

    Our own modern patrons, the political classes, when they “encourage the arts” are handling other people’s money (ours, or more usually the purchasers of bonds via Westminster) and feel the need to make those they dole it out to account for every penny in triplicate. The skill to create effective proposals, while often an exercise in the creative imagination uses quite a different part of the imagination to artistic creativity and accordingly arts grants attract those people with skills quite different to the people whose primary skill set is real artistic creativity.

    Lucky Joyce had clever Ezra bullying those of his friends and acquaintances who were both wealthy and cultured on his behalf, and were attributes of what is now an almost extinct breed today when the rich are interested in money and the cultured are usually quite a different crowd. So we have “Ulysses” and “Finnegan’s Wake” from the patronage of the inter-war Ancien Régime while the current political classes and their paid civil service apparatchiks can offer us a gruel that passes for culture in such things as last years “celebration” of poor old Derry as a “City of Culture.”

    The problem is that Pastor McConnell’s anti-Islamic rants have their parallels in the real distaste for Culture and Creativity that is common among our politicians, except when it is being cosmetically dressed up as something else, i.e.: a nice wee earner or a tourist draw. So they pay monkeys who are good at proposals and what do they get?

    Oh for the days of the likes John Hewitt, who I remember from his visits from Coventry during the 1960s after he’d been forced into exile by the unionist old guard.

  • PaddyReilly

    Leopold Bloom’s spreadsheet in Ulysses works out only because he omits the money he’s paid to Bella Cohen’s brothel. No one pointed out the irony.

    Not true. Stephen Dedalus paid for the visit to Bella Cohen’s. As SD was drunk, LB persuaded him to hand his money over to LB, who handed it back to him when he was soberer. This is meticulously documented in Bloom’s accounts, though not reported to his wife Molly.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    The following year. 1905, D.P. Moran wrote of his countrymen as “the children that we have allowed ourselves to become [who] look nervously to our masters to find out how much good we may believe of ourselves. England did not flatter us; so today we are a mean race in our own estimation.” Joyce, underneath the exciting, innovative modernism of his prose, is essentially the laureate who sings with the voice of this inferiority ridden, gombeen Ireland, and its very, very interesting for our mass psychology as a community that he continues to be the appointed central voice of Irish culture.

    I began to think then who might be the possible voice of the Unionist portion of Ireland, and after dismissing Forrest Reid and John Lyle Donaghy, (Hewitt is just too turgid, and does not voice much more than Hewitt no matter what everyone tries to think) I realised that the authentic voice of what has developed into the archetypal DUP voter is Hubert Quinn, whose novels manage a perfect mix of dreary puritan ethics, long sentimental images that would leave any sensitive reader longing for GA’s awful hedgehog story, and descriptive passages that are to prose what Willie McGonagall is to poetry. Try his mawkish “Mother Machree” collection of stories from 1933.

  • claudius

    Literary onanism;)

  • SeaanUiNeill

    John O’Neill , (no relation) has bumped this up the list from 2011, but it takes repeating…….


    There’s a festival there somewhere, “first we take En’skillen, then we take Stra-bane……” sorry Leonard……..

    And hey, where DID Brendan Gleeson’s exciting “At Swim Two Birds” project go to in the end? As someone with a shelf full of quietly dropped film projects myself I can sympathise, but you’d have thought someone up here would have seen the tourism potential?