Bloomsday Celebration Planned for Athens

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June 16 is celebrated around the globe as “Bloomsday,” the day forever immortalized in James Joyce’s highly regarded classic Ulysses. During the course of the novel’s plot, protagonist Leopold Bloom navigates a relatively “normal day” in Dublin circa June 16, 1904.

For the first time, Athenians will have a chance to toast Joyce’s 265,000-word masterpiece June 16 with a 7 p.m. screening of the documentary In Bed With Ulysses at the Athena, followed by live Irish music at Jackie O’s directly afterwards.

The celebration was organized by Ohio University’s associate English professor Dr. Carey Snyder and Alden Library.

“Bloomsday is a wonderful tradition celebrated around the world, and when I lived in NYC I would sometimes participate by going to readings and pubs to hear music and I felt like Athens was being left out and should participate in this tradition,” said Snyder, who is fresh off of teaching a spring course on Joyce and Virginia Woolf.

“What’s nice about (In Bed with Ulysses) is that it combines archival footage, interviews and staged readings and it’s really nicely done and it immerses you in the story of the writing and publishing and the controversy around this novel,” said Snyder. “It’s definitely not just for dedicated Joyce fans, it’s for everybody. It’s a gripping story about a very interesting man and a brilliant novel.”

Although the book has a bit of reputation of being hard to crack, Snyder said that shifting one’s approach to the novel might make all the difference for the loads of people who have unsuccessfully tried wrangling Ulysses on their own.

“With other books, I never tell students to go and read the cliff notes; but with Ulysses, I urge them to go and read about it,” said Snyder. “This is a book where I encourage embracing the Bloomsday guide books so that you can appreciate some of the allusions in the book, because it’s chock full of allusions to other literary works and Irish history and popular culture.”

Snyder also recommends listening to the work at Ulysses Archive, which provides free downloadable readings of the book.

“One of the many things that is challenging about the book is the fact that there is no attribution, no he said, she said,” said Snyder. “Listening to Ulysses really clarifies it, brings it to life and makes it much more accessible.”