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Today Is Bloomsday, But Dear God Why?

June 16, 2011

A couple of weeks ago a lady at an assisted living facility asked me if I had a copy of Ulysses” at home.    Over time I had provided her with some other books, and so now she asks about this or that title.  She has a keen and inquisitive mind.  But Ulysses”?   I told her I had no uneven furniture that required a book that size under it.  While she was wanting to read what some claim to be a classic, I still recall trying to make it to page 25 of the book and wondering why….dear God…why?

With that in mind comes this story today about the love affair some have with James Joyce.

Today is Bloomsday, the annual celebration of James Joyce’s novel Ulysses. The book details an epic day in the life of Leopold Bloom, in the 24-hour span of June 16, 1904.

For decades, Joyce-lovers have been commemorating Bloomsday by eating liver for breakfast and drinking pints of Guinness, as Bloom does. They also hold marathon readings of the novel.

This year, the commemorations will also include Twitter, where a group of Ulysses enthusiasts has broken the nearly 800-page novel down into bite-sized pieces — each 140 characters long. They’ll send the tweets out in what’s being called a Bloomsday Burst.

Stephen Cole organized the Ulysses Meets Twitter project by breaking the book into 96 sections, one for each 15 minutes of the day. Then he recruited volunteers to condense the book into tweets, each one representing about eight pages of the book.

As Cole tells Morning Edition co-host Renee Montagne, he considers the Bloomsday Burst an experiment.

“What I chose to do was [to] try to get in the words and phrases that you liked,” he says, “but also put in enough of the narrative link so you can get a sense of where he is, and where he’s going.”

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