As Ulysses is on a lot of people's reading lists, and as it is Bloomsday at the end of spring, and as people were interested in this crazy endeavour, here it is: the official sign up page!
What is Bloomsday?
Bloomsday is on the 16th June (this year it falls on a Saturday) and it marks the day on which James Joyce's Ulysses is based. As a day of celebration, it began in 1954, the fifty year anniversary of the events in the novel, when John Ryan, Flann O'Brien, Patrick Kavanagh, Anthony Cronin, Tom Joyce (Joyce's cousin) and AJ Leventhal attempted a pilgrimage along the Ulysses route (I say "attempted" because their mission had to be aborted owing to a somewhat impressive intake of alcohol!). Since then in Dublin and all around the world, Bloomsday (the name taken from one of the main characters, Leopold Bloom) has been observed.
On Saturday, the 16th June 2012, I'm proposing we all celebrate Bloomsday by reading all, most, or a little bit of James Joyce's Ulysses. Ulysses is based around the events of a single day, 16th June 1914. The book is broken down thus:
- Part I - 8am
- Part II - 10am
- Part III - 11am
- Part IV - 8am
- Part V - 10am
- Part VI - 11am
- Part VII - 12pm
- Part VIII - 1pm
- Part IX - 2pm
- Part X - 3pm
- Part XI - 4pm
- Part XII - 5pm
- Part XIII - 8pm
- Part XIV - 10pm
- Part XV - 12am
- Part XVI - 1am
- Part XVII - 2am
- Part XVII - Monologue
Ulysses, my edition at least, is 933 pages, and I believe Allie's is 730 pages. I've seen readathons where people have read more than 1000 pages. This is possible.
Here are the options:
- For the hardcore: Start at 8am, read the lot. See if it's possible to stick to the time scale (I don't know if it is, when I first read it I was unaware of the breakdown).
- For those wanting to dabble: Start at 8am with the hardcore and see how far you wish to go. Stop whenever you want. And, if you like, when you've read the parts you wish to, write a post at the end of it and let us know how you got on (only if you want to).
- For those who think this is insane, or are not ready for Ulysses: read anything by or about James Joyce.
- For the Joyce-esque rule breakers: aim to start or finish Ulysses on the 16th and take however long you want!
But, if you decide to be hardcore: you may wonder, what will you get out of it? Because it has to be said - reading Ulysses in a single day is a big ask, and I don't know that anyone would be able to understand and appreciate it reading it in this manner. However, I would say this: James Joyce is one tricky writer. He demands re-reads. Chances are, one read will never be enough. Reading it in this way, powering through it, will allow you to familiarise yourself with the novel. I've seen a lot of people say it is intimidating, and yes it is, but after this, no matter what level you pick, it will become less of a mystery. It will not be a stranger, and powering through it, you will take some things from it and you can be proud of that, and the others you will have to let go for now. This read is about working through it, letting it wash over you, not sitting with a pencil and a notepad trying to figure out what this bit meant, or this, or this. This may well be a great way to read it for the first time.
So, care to join me? If so, sign up, leave me a comment below and post on your own blog your intentions :)