To celebrate Bloomsday 2021, UCD Alumni hosted a special In Conversation webinar event, entitled Bloomsday 2021: Why Ulysses Matters. The event featured Simon O’Connor, Director of Museum of Literature Ireland (MoLI), Professor Anne Fogarty, Professor of James Joyce Studies at UCD, and Katherine McSharry, Deputy Director of the National Library of Ireland, who discussed the significance of Ulysses for the work of MoLI and Joyce’s significance for UCD.
If you’ve been meaning to read James Joyce’s Ulysses but never quite got to it, there’s no better year than 2021 as we head towards the 100 year anniversary of this ground-breaking novel. Here are some of the helpful tips from the webinar for reading Ulysses.
1. Don’t start at the beginning: Start at episode four which introduces us to Leopold Bloom, one of the most famous characters in 20th century literature. This chapter is very readable and approachable. Another good tactic is to start at the end – the final episode of Ulysses “Penelope” is universally liked.
2. Listen to recordings of Ulysses: The best known version is the highly acclaimed RTÉ dramatisation which covers the entirety of Ulysses and features renowned actors throughout. Available for free online.
3. Get a good but succinct guide to Ulysses: Ulysses Unbound by Terence Killeen provides short but multifaceted introductions to each of the chapters.
4. Walk around Dublin: Use an app from the James Joyce Centre or a printed guide such as The Ulysses Guide by Robert Nicholson. Listen to or read Ulysses as it introduces you to parts of the city you haven’t visited.
5. Read it to enjoy it: If a chapter is too much for you just skip it and go on to the next bit, you can always return to it as you re-read the novel. Give yourself sufficient time to sit down and read large sections of it, rather than tackling it a page or two at a time.
Finally, as Joyce himself once wrote “To learn one must be humble, but life is a great teacher”. Happy reading!
You can watch back the full webinar event here.