Bloomsday with One Eye Open

Artwork by Jason Cavanagh, courtesy Bloomsday in Melbourne

Artwork by Jason Cavanagh, courtesy Bloomsday in Melbourne

It’s Bloomsday this Thursday, when lovers of James Joyce’s Ulysses commemorate the novel, which is set over a 24-hour period beginning on the morning of June 16, 1904, and ending at dawn the following morning. James Joyce famously set the novel on this day because it marked the first time he and his future wife - Molly, also the name of the wife of the novel’s chief protagonist - went on a date.

Events in Melbourne include a play, An Irishman and a Jew Go into a Pub, based on the Cyclops chapter in the novel, at the University of Melbourne’s Open Stage Theatre at 1pm and 8pm on Bloomsday, and again at 8pm on Friday, June 17. Bloomsday evening festivities at the Drunken Poet in West Melbourne will feature writers and musicians including Benjamin Law, Shane Maloney, Mick Thomas and Van Walker. Since 1987, Collected Works bookshop’s annual Bloomsday readings have picked up where they left off the year before. This year, from noon to about 1:30pm, Bloomophiles will begin reading at the phrase, “the summer evening,” on page 344 of the Penguin edition.