Monday, June 16, 2008
It's Bloomsday, observed all over the English-reading world to celebrate the life of James Augustine Aloysius Joyce and his novel Ulysses, written about an ordinary day in Dublin on June 16, 1904. (Name comes from protagonist: Leopold Bloom.)
Joyce picked the day to commemorate his first date with his girlfriend in which they, in keeping with wholesome courting practices of the era, walked to the Dublin village of Ringsend. (Send ring, indeed-- Nora soon became his wife.)
By chronicling a character going about his everyday business, Joyce wrote a book in which nothing or everything happens, depending on your point of view. It was originally serialized in a magazine out of Chicago, then published as a book (cover pictured) in Paris a few years later. When the published book was imported by boat to the US, the shipment was seized and declared obscene by New York Society for the Suppression of Vice because it contains a scene in which the main character masturbates. The ban was reversed years later by a forward-thinking Judge who declared it not pornographic, but emetic (adj: causing a person to vomit.)
I thought this was the perfect day to try out a new site Adverblog kindly pointed me to--Read At Work, which disguises books as every day office computer documents. But, alas, Joyce isn't yet on their shelves. You're in luck, however, if you want to read Orwell or Tolstoy while appearing to pore over Powerpoint docs.