All the action in James Joyce's Ulysses, arguably one of the greatest novels ever, takes place on June 16, 1904, a date now known as Bloomsday, after the novel's main character, Leopold Bloom. And now every June 16 around the world, fans of Joyce's encyclopedic, beautiful, baffling book gather to celebrate the author and his work. This Saturday is the 23rd annual Worcester Ramble: from 8 am to 9 pm, participants walk through Worcester to sites reminiscent of places in Ulysses and read aloud from the novel. Since one of the first scenes in Ulysses is set at a stone tower, the Ramble begins at Bancroft Tower.
Over in Greenfield the Hawks and Reed Performing Arts Center is hosting an evening of Irish music and readings from Joyce's short story collection Dubliners. And if you can make it to New York, you're in for a varied celebration of all things Irish (and Joycean).
Even if you don't love Joyce, his work has a cultural afterlife that is endlessly fascinating. This week The New York Times Magazine ran a fascinating article on a prominent (and controversial) Boston University Joyce scholar who seemingly disappeared. Also this week, Scientific American published a tribute to Joyce as a theorist of the mind. If you're even mildly interested in technology you may be intrigued by the Boston College project (now apparently abandoned) to create a virtual reality game based on Ulysses called (of course) Joycestick.
And 12 years ago The Institute of Contemporary Arts in London nominated British artist Simon Popper for a major award. The work that earned him this honor? A reproduction of the first edition of Ulysses, with the text rearranged in alphabetical order (I'm not kidding).