19 June 2007

Bloomsday 2007

I can knock one item off this year's resolutions (and my life's to-do list) with a good conscience. I've been to Dublin on Bloomsday.

James Joyce's great novel, Ulysses, traces the movements through Dublin on June 16, 1904 of Leopold Bloom and Stephen Daedelus, beginning with their respective breakfasts.

The breakfast arranged for this day by the James Joyce society in Dublin each year has become so popular that it is now conducted in three shifts, at 8, 9:30, and 11. I was in the second of those seatings, and it was packed. (By the way, I've learned that "nine half" is a concise Irish idiom for nine thirty.)

I was wandering about the neighborhood of the society's building in advance of my nine half appointment, and found the Eccles Street address where Leopold and Molly would have lived. There is a plaque there commemorating this fact, although aside from that it looks like an ordinary residential address, not diferent from the others stretching off to both sides of it. I would imagine the present inhabitants are content with the fact that strangers take photos of their stoop every June.

Nine half came about, and I had my morning feast. The components were an amalgam of the two distinct breakfasts in the book -- Leopold's and Stephen's. The kidney did in fact (as the text specifies) smell of urine. Actors moved about in appropriate costume speaking lines from the novel and interacting a bit with the audience.

I didn't participate in the afternoon scheduled events, because I preferred to do some of my own Homeric wandering about the city. I was back, though, at the JJ centre for a theatrical performance about the life of Joyce and the love of his life, called Himself and Nora.

After a successful California run, Himself and Nora is poised for an opening in the west end of London next year. The performance in Dublin on Bloomsday itself, in a more intimate setting, wasn't a full production but a concert performance by three principals -- the composer/lyricist, and the actor and actress who'll be playing the leads in London. Composer Jonathan Brielle introduced the two stars and read spoken dialog for the other characters in the play, as necessary to set up their songs.

Here's a URL for a review of the play in its California ru, although you'll have to scroll down past another review to get to it.


Quite incidentally, I learned that the name of the river that bissects Dublin into northern and southern halves should be pronounced to rhyme with jiffy, not so as to rhyme with "wifey"! I learned this during an amusing number in which Joyce is trying to teach English to Italians to learn his living while in his self-imposed exile, working on Ulysses.

Tonorrow, I'll try to give you, dear readers, the benefit of some of my other wanderings while in my short stay in this history-intoxicated city. On Thursday, I'll update you on current events in Ireland, at least as I gathered them from my reading of the local papers there. And on Friday, I'll have a bit more to say about Mr. Joyce.

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Knowledge is warranted belief -- it is the body of belief that we build up because, while living in this world, we've developed good reasons for believing it. What we know, then, is what works -- and it is, necessarily, what has worked for us, each of us individually, as a first approximation. For my other blog, on the struggles for control in the corporate suites, see www.proxypartisans.blogspot.com.