Today marks a very important day in literary history for two separate, but wildly related reasons: February 2nd is both Irish author James Joyce’s 136th birthday and the 96th anniversary of the publication of Joyce’s magnum opus, Ulysses.
Ulysses was published on February 2, 1922 and was received with very mixed reviews. Some hailed the book as being a sheer masterpiece, while many others found it to be lewd, crude, and pornographic, going so far as to have the book banned until a trial entitled The United States v. One Book Called Ulysses lifted said ban in 1934. Today, it continues to top the charts as being one of the most important novels of the 20th century, and possibly of all time.
Throughout the novel, our two main characters: Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus, find themselves exploring the city of Dublin throughout the course of a single day. Each chapter of the book recalls a new hour of the day (paralleling and retelling Homer’s The Odyssey, of course), and also takes us to a new section of the city.
Joyce had been living in Paris for years during the writing of this novel, and his ability to recount specific details of his home city (right down to street intersections!) is beyond impressive, because each location mentioned actually exists within the city. June 16th, known as “Bloomsday,” is the day our characters find themselves venturing out. On that same day, all of these years later, Joyce lovers flock to Dublin and tour the famous locations seen in Ulysses.
You too can visit Dublin with or without a tour guide, and follow Dedalus and Bloom’s odyssey by following this comprehensive map! Each location is marked with a helpful pin, and provides details on the novel’s chapters that correspond to said pins.
So grab yourself a Guinness, and celebrate the birth of James Joyce coupled with the anniversary of Ulysses in a way that might make even the most cantankerous of literary geniuses proud!
Feature Image Via Open Culture