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Date Posted: 14:57:17 06/25/05 Sat GMT
Subject: Bloomsday gives voice to Joyce (Chicago Tribune)
Bloomsday gives voice to the joys of Joyce
By Jon Anderson
Tribune staff reporter
June 21, 2005
"Bloomsday is unique," the Irish consul general, Charles Sheehan, said Thursday, putting a proper accent on things.
Sheehan was recalling for fans of James Joyce, as if it were ever needed for that crowd, that of all the world's works of art, only Joyce's "Ulysses" has its own international day, June 16, celebrated each year from Moscow to Melbourne, with quite a bit of hoopla in Chicago.
Indeed, it was quite a group that gathered this year at the Cliff Dwellers Club, high atop a downtown office building at 200 S. Michigan Ave.
"We can't do the entire novel," lamented Steve Diedrich, the master of ceremonies for the event, "but in a couple of hours we can give you some good samples." It was, he concurred, a night when "Joyceans everywhere gather together to rejoice in this comic masterpiece."
As none present needed reminding, the construction of the work began on June 16, 1904, when James Joyce went on a walk in Dublin--and fell in love--with Nora Barnacle, a tall, good-looking young woman, auburn-haired, with lilting speech, considerable wit and spirit and a capacity for terse utterance.
That was how one Joyce biographer, Richard Ellmann, once described the woman who inspired Joyce to turn that fine, breezy day into the temporal underpinning for "Ulysses." His reshaping of Homeric myth, set in a city of failure, of rancor, of unhappiness, used a third of a million words.
With its relentless examination of the ordinary, it also offered, as Ellmann observed, "a new notion of greatness."
Much of that had to do with the glories of the human voice, carefully heard by Joyce and, last week, brought to life by 10 readers. They rose above their day jobs to offer Joycean insights, beginning with "Morning at the Martello Tower" and ending with the joyously seductive "Molly's Yes."
"There's no better place to be than here tonight for someone named Michael James Jeremiah Burke," proclaimed Michael James Jeremiah Burke, as he launched into "In the kitchen at 7 Eccles Street." Nor could anyone have better Irish credentials than Rory Childers.
Now a professor of cardiology at the University of Chicago, he is the son of a former president of the Irish Republic and the grandson of an Irish martyr, caught up in the troubles of the 1920s and executed by a British firing squad. Joyce knew the family
As Sheehan noted, James Joyce never visited the U.S., "though he had important supporters here."
Faced with censorship for his unflinching reportage on various aspects of the human condition, Joyce was supported by the Little Review, launched in Chicago in 1914 by Margaret Anderson as an avant-garde literary journal. She published much of "Ulysses" in serial form.
Nor does support for the work seem to be waning.
This year's celebrations included a lively gathering in Phoenix, where Joyceans hope, in coming years, to hold a sort of traveling "Ulysses" parade through the Arizona desert. They have lots of pubs and post offices, one fan noted, but there may be a problem finding a lighthouse.
Copyright © 2005, Chicago Tribune
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