Friday, 30 March 2012

The Bloomsday Readalong: Sign Ups

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. 

The Plan
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:
  1. 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).
  2. 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).
  3. For those who think this is insane, or are not ready for Ulysses: read anything by or about James Joyce. 
  4. For the Joyce-esque rule breakers: aim to start or finish Ulysses on the 16th and take however long you want!
This does not have to be a 24 hour readathon / readalong. If you just want to go for the first part then write a post, that would be a great way of observing Bloomsday!

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 :)


  1. Ahhh, I am so tempted to sign up! My maths teacher is merciless, I begged him on my knees to put the exam off, but he did not quite understand my argument of wanting to celebrate Bloomsday...
    Does your offer to repeat the whole insanity with me still stand? That would be amazing!

  2. Yes of course :) We can read whatever you want, assuming I own it! Up to you what and when :)

  3. I've always enjoyed your posts about James Joyce. He is my number one literary fear... But sometimes the best books are the ones you like unexpectedly so I'm going to give this a go! I'll either aim for option 2 or 3.

    On a side note - hooray for being able to comment again!

  4. Pls count me in. I've made a sign up post (but I'm not 100% sure it published successfully). I hadn't planned on reading Ulysses for another 5 years, but since I'm loving Clarissa, I think you may give good tips. :)

  5. I wasn't brave enough to even include this on my Classics Club list, let alone attempt it in one day! I might consider dabbling, however, as we get closer to the event. Depends on how my schedule goes. Good luck!

  6. I will definitely be joining you for this read-along, but I won't be putting up a post on my blog until the date gets a little closer. I'll use the Mister Linky sign-up once I've written my post about it.

    I can guarantee I won't get through all of Ulysses in 24 hours (I have kids and my husband works weekends), but I'll do what I can!

  7. Ooh! I'm totally in on this!

  8. What a perfect way to spend my 20th birthday! Probably won't finish the entire novel in one day, but I'll start at 8 am and read as much as I can. And then finish at a later date. So excited!

    (Will post on blog today or tomorrow!)

  9. I have too much literary cowardice to attempt Ulysses. You are a brave woman! However, I've been feeling guilty about my continued avoidance of James Joyce. I think I'll try something a little more accessible for the event.

  10. Quick ques - what timezone will most people be doing this to - i'm assuming BST/IST? I was about to sign-up when I realised being in NZ means I'll probably be asleep while everyone else is tweeting/blogging. So I'll have to think about this a bit more and see how I can work it....

  11. Count me in! I'll be reading from the Central time zone, so 6 hours behind England. I may try to start a little before 8 my time to start a bit more in line with you and so I'm not reading at 2 a.m.!

  12. Yes I said yes I will Yes :-)

    Will be posting about it later this week, for now I'll just showcase it in my sidebar.

  13. Marvelous :)

    7 of us now, w00t!

  14. I really REALLY want to finish Ulysses. I started reading it for a course at uni but there were about 13 other books on the course so I was just getting to grips with it and had to put it down for something else and never came back.

    I will admit, I am absolutely terrified of it. It and War and Peace are pretty much the only books that scare the crap out of me and much as I'd love to, I honestly don't think I can read the whole thing in a day. I have a feeling my brain will explode.

    You guys may have managed to motivate me to at least start it on June 16th though.. Wish me luck!

  15. I've just got my hands on the book and this thing is HUGE! Not to mention skimming some of the text plenty of it seemed to be in another language.

    So I knew that I wouldn't be able to finish it in a day but now I'm not sure I'll be able to finish it at all! So I'm going to give myself a little break and say I'm going to start the book this Bloomsday and as long as I finish by next Bloomsday then I'm good :)

    Haha we'll see how I go.

  16. It sounds like a lot of fun, so I may start reading Ulysses with the group, but am not up for trying to get through it in its entirety my first time through. I look forward to seeing how everyone does. Best of luck and enjoy.

  17. Have you seen this, o?

    Thought I'd share, in case not. I have to work Saturday and DEFINITELY do not want to read this one in full Sat. But I might listen a bit in the spirit of Bloomsday. I probably won't make it official or write about it, so I'm still not signing up. But I might be with you a bit in spirit Sat, for a snatch of it.

    Hope you all have fun!! As always o is inspiring us for one of the tough tomes. :)

  18. Thanks for the link. When you were talking about this on twitter I assumed I wouldn't be able to access because it was bbc radio not realising it was a podcast. Keen for a listen.



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