The Rosenbach's annual celebration of James Joyce returns for its 20th year, a week of events leading up to Bloomsday, an open-air festival featuring dramatic readings from Ulysses by Philadelphia notables. (Photo courtesy The Rosenbach)
If the thought of James Joyce’s Ulysses brings back nothing but cringe-worthy high school memories of scouring the pages of Cliff’s Notes during sleepless all-nighters, you’re not alone.
Even the folks at the Rosenbach Museum admit that the Joyce classic is a difficult read, even for the most scholarly of scholars.
But that’s no reason not to celebrate it!
The Rosenbach Museum invites you to celebrate “Bloomsday” on June 16, which is the date Leopold Bloom (Joyce’s main character) made his “odyssey” through Dublin in James Joyce’s modernist masterpiece Ulyssess. Bloomsday is now an annual celebration around the world.
The Rosenbach happens to be the home to the only complete manuscript of the novel written in Joyce’s own hand. Even cooler, it hosts one of the biggest Bloomsday events in the world.
The event has grown from a small gathering of a few dozen to a week-long community festival celebrated by thousands of people. The festival culminates on Bloomsday, during which people from all around come together to listen to live readings from the novel and be inspired by literature.
Events begin on June 7 and run through June 16. Some of note include:
• Conversation with the Curator (Thursday, June 7, 6-7 p.m.): Get the inside scoop at “Who Owns Ulysses? James Joyce and Copyright.” This informal presentation is led by exhibition curator Dr. Melanie Micir, who will discuss key aspects of the exhibition.
• James Joyce & Irish Authors (Friday, June 8, 3-4 p.m.): The Rosenbach is well known for the works of James Joyce and Bram Stoker, but the “English Literature” collections include many other notable Irish authors as well. In addition to Ulysses and Dracula, works by others will be read.
• Go Ulysses! (Wednesday, June 13, 6-7 p.m.): A family-friendly 30-minute puppet show that will capture the wit of Ulysses, while introducing the novel to the next generation of fans.
• Bloomsday 101 at Fergie’s Pub (Thursday, June 14, 6-8 p.m.): Part Bloomsday intro, part pub quiz. Joyce experts Melanie Micir and Lance Wahlert guarantee you’ll leave this festive evening knowing more about Mr. Bloom’s day than when you arrived. Bloomsday 101 takes place offsite at Fergie’s Pub, 1214 Sansom Street.
• The Rosenbacchanal (Friday, June 15, 6-10 p.m.): A fundraiser for the Rosenbach, with special guest of honor Mr. Frank Delaney, “The Most Eloquent Man in the World” according to NPR. Mr. Delaney is also a celebrated author and broadcaster of the increasingly popular Re:Joyce podcasts. For tickets, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (215)732-1600.
• Bloomsday (Saturday, June 16, noon-7 p.m.): Stop by for a free all-day reading from James Joyce’s Ulysses. Joyce enthusiasts from all walks of life will bring the novel to life by reading sections of the novel aloud. Grab your own copy of Ulysses and sit with hundreds of fellow literature lovers to revel in the genius of Joyce. Readers in the past have included Mayor Nutter, Greater Philadelphia Film Office Director Sharon Pinkenson, radio host David Dye and more. Full schedule to come.
When: June 7-June 16
Where: The Rosenbach Museum & Library, 2008-2010 Delancey Place
Cost: Free to members
More info: www.rosenbach.org