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How to Savor Ulysses this Summer
by Hartson Dowd

Why take a vacation, if not to fish or curl up with the latest John Grisham or Danielle Steele?  Well there’s nothing wrong with a good popular thriller or romance during that precious time off.  But if you’d like to do some more profound reading --- if you’d like to take your mind on a once-in-a-lifetime trip --- some great books are out there waiting to be discovered.

They tell about life, how to live it, and live it greatly.  They’ll put you in touch with what it is to be human --- that is why we take vacations. Think of the classics as an adventure holiday for the imagination. If you tackle a classic this summer, you won’t just be testing yourself. You’ll be proving that you’ve got strength, life and vitality deep down where it counts. So, why not test your literary stamina with one of Ireland's greatest - Ulysses, by James Joyce! Estimated reading time:- 10 days, if you really focus.

It all began on a late spring day, June 16, 1904, when James Joyce asked a young hotel maid to go for a walk with him. In a way, Ulysses is a love story, but not the usual kind.  Joyce is in love with literature, so much so that just about everything literature could possibly say is sucked into the vortex of a day-long journey around the city of Dublin. In the process, Joyce tells the story of Homer’s ‘The Odyssey’, replacing the ancient Greek protagonist with a 20th-century Everyman,  Leopold Bloom.

The challenge: The 700 page novel takes about 24 hours to read aloud and covers the passage of a single day.  While Bloom is making his way around Dublin, buying liver, attending a funeral, visiting a newspaper office and a brothel, his wife, Molly Bloom, is at home with her singing manager, Blazes Boylan, conducting an illicit affair.  By nightfall, a weary and well-traveled Leopold arrives home with a surrogate son, Stephen Dudalus, as Molly dreams herself to sleep with the famous last words of the novel “yes I said yes I will Yes.”

Joyce said it took him 10 years to write Ulysses and that the book should take 10 years to read.  He was exaggerating.  It isn’t that difficult.

The rewards: Ulysses is a bit like mountain-climbing:  You read it because it is there, though once you’re at the top, the view is worth the effort. Very subtly, it makes us relearn the reading process, chapter by chapter. Joyce shifts narrative voices and techniques, centering each chapter around a different art, a different part of the body and a different episode of Homer’s ancient epic poem about a man trying to get home.

Just as Supertramp had that old song, ‘Take the Long Way Home,’ so Joyce writes a novel about a day that never seems to end.  And what a journey it is, wonderful for stay-at-home summers in the city.

But we did take time to fish, coming home with a 38 pound Spring Salmon to can, (Helen put down 40 half pints) while I smoked 13 Dolly Varden Trout (the Irish Way). They had some very hot weather down in the city, but up in the Cariboo we were cool and refreshed.

Great additions to the Irish Library, please click here for more details on Ulysses or Ulysses Annotated. According to one reviewer, ""A truly useful book in its explanation of puns, jokes, foreign phrases, and a myriad of other items including many helpful glosses on terms belonging to the vernacular of Dublin. For this last item alone the book is valuable because it documents much of the popular but fading idiom of the Dublin of 1904."

Note: As always, Hartson and Helen Dowd are a tremendous help to us with this web site; we'd like to thank them for this delightful contribition and also take this opportunity to wish all of our subscribers and visitors a happy and safe summer - especially if you will be fortunate enough to be sspending Bloomsday in Dublin! If you are currently planning your trip, there are several hotels close to the Joyce Centre which is famous for serving an authentic breakfast as described in the book.

Feature Image from Eoghan Murphy


Fri, Feb 2, 2018

Irish God and Goddess of love

Oengus is the Irish God of love, beauty and youth. According to the old folklore, his kisses became birds. It is also said that he dreamed of a beautiful maiden, named Caer, for whom he searched all over Ireland. Eventually, he found her chained to 150 other maidens, destined to become swans at the time of Samhain. Legend has it that Oengus transformed himself into a swan and was united with his love.
Aine of Knockaine is the Irish Goddess of love. She is also known as the Fairy Queen of Munster and as a goddess of fertility beause she has control and command over crops and animals, especially cattle. Another name by which she is known is Aillen. To learn more about Irish mythology, please click Irish Myths & Legends.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

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Photo Credit: Roy Rainford
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Ulysses movie

One of the great works of literature of this century - it is also a difficult novel to read. Another way of accessing the novel is by watching director Strick's excellent film tribute. While it would not be possible to get the whole massive work into a couple of hours film it's an excellent introduction. Edited amazon review
Click here for Ulysses.

Bloom movie

One of 20th-century literature's most acclaimed and daunting works-James Joyce's "Ulysses"-is brought to the screen by first-time director Sean Walsh. Stephen Rea is Dublin resident Leopold Bloom, for whom the 16th of June, 1904 becomes a modern-day odyssey as he wanders the city streets, befriends would-be poet Stephen Dedalus (Hugh O'Conor), and deals with wife Molly's (Angeline Ball) infidelity
Click here for Bloom.


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