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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Shorter Ulysses

Today's the day when Dubliners celebrate James Joyce and Ulysses. Here's a great summary of the novel.

From the Writer's Almanac:
Today is Bloomsday, the day on which the action in James Joyce's novel Ulysses takes place in 1904. Leopold Bloom, the main character of Ulysses, does not have much work to do, spends most of his day wandering around Dublin doing some errands, leaves his house on Eccles Street, walks south across the River Liffey, picks up a letter, buys a bar of soap, and goes to the funeral of a man he didn't know very well. In the afternoon, he has a cheese sandwich, feeds the gulls in the river, helps a blind man cross the street, and visits a couple of pubs. He thinks about his job, his wife, his daughter, his stillborn son. He muses about life and death and reincarnation. He knows that his wife is going to cheat on him that afternoon at his house. In the evening, he wanders around the red-light district of Dublin and meets up with a young writer named Stephen Dedalus, who is drunk. And so Leopold Bloom takes him home with him and offers to let him spend the night. And they stand outside, looking at the stars for a while. And then Bloom goes inside and climbs into bed with his wife.
There. Now you can make witty jokes at department cocktail parties.

Example: "President Bush's approval rating is lower than the Liffey and we're all wearing Bloom's loafers!"

When the person you're talking to doesn't understand you simply say, "Oh, Dedalus, will you ever come in from out under the stars?" Then turn to the person next to you and say, "Get a load of this guy. You'd think someone else here would have a grip on the ineluctable modality of the visible."

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