Even his lapels are filthy.
Today, the 16th of June, is Bloomsday: the annual celebration of the life and work of James Joyce in general, and of his landmark Modernist novel Ulysses in particular. It’s a landmark in the literary sense and also in the geographical sense, a dauntingly huge and dense wodge of cellulose. If ever a book was better read weightlessly as an e-book, Ulysses is it. June 16th 1904 is the Dublin day described in hyperreal detail by the book’s protagonist Leopold Bloom, and re-enacted by Joyce fanatics every year since 1954.
The 16th of June was also significant as the date of Joyce’s first outing with the woman who would become his beloved wife, Nora Barnacle. So why don’t you celebrate Bloomsday by starting on Ulysses if you haven’t already? To be honest you might regret it and give up in frustration as many have done before, but you definitely won’t regret trying. But first, how about this:
IT’S ONLY THE BEST COMPLETEST MOST BROWNSEXFUL PAGE OF SHEER FILTH WRITTEN BY JAMES JOYCE TO HIS WIFE ON THE WHOLE BLOODY INTERNET.
It’s been linked from Tumblr, Reddit and even by those depraved little naughty farties at The Telegraph. The readership counts for the page are already predictably massive, as they are every year on this day.
And of course there’s also Kate Bush’s magnificent and typically loopy-sexy tribute to Ulysses: The Sensual World. A few years ago she finally released the song as originally intended, with quotes from Joyce. These had been forbidden by the Joyce estate in the late 80s. But I still prefer this version, if only because I don’t think there are enough pastiches of Joycean prose in the world. I think it’s more fun and more in the spirit of Joyce to make it up– as Bush was forced to– than to just quote it.
Look! Kate’s raided the costume box at the local amateur dramatic society again, now she’s sashaying through a forest fire and hopping around like a scary crow and being all sexy and whatnot. Not pictured: police search team and duty psychiatrist.
Happy Bloomsday my hot little boys and girls, you brownarsed blackguards, you whores of the hedge.
Update: Here’s a reading of the original Molly Bloom soliloquy from Ulysses, to which Kate Bush was referring.