I was down in Dun Laoghaire and Glasthule this morning. The main street is full of older gentlemen in bow ties and bowlers. There are women in large hats with feathers and flowers. Some have parasols. There are vintage cars lining the streets. It’s Halloween for Joyce fans!
At one café there are well known actors reading out sections from “The Book” all day long. It’s the high holy day for Joyce scholars. Saint James Joyce rules the day.
I wonder if it makes people feel very satisfied to celebrate Bloomsday. A great majority of humans have not–even cannot–read Ulysses. Some read it with help from a class or reading group. These dressed up revelers in Dublin today are allowed to smugly dress up as and play out scenes from the Great Book. Seemingly they have all read–and understood!–it?
It feels quite American and not very Irish to dress up and parade around town. A dress up day for intellectual snobs. Is that and unfair assessment?
Absolutely Ulysses was and is a groundbreaking novel. I just find it amazing that every day hundreds of Joyce fans get dressed up to play out the novel. It is fun to look at, and certainly it’s nice to have a diversion to the normal daily routine. Outside of the actual participants, most Dubliners seem not to care that much. There certainly are not any young people (under 30s) dressed up as Leopold and Molly. I wonder if Bloomsday is a timeless venture?
Having said that, there is not another book in the whole world that has an entire day set aside to celebrate it. There are plenty of JK Rowling fans who play Quidditch and belong to the Hogwarts Houses online, etc, but there is not a Harry Potter Day.
I suppose anyone who has read and understood Ulysses deserves a day to dress up and brag about it.