Each year on June 16, people around the world celebrate one of the greatest works of modern literature: James Joyce’s Ulysses. Set on a single day in 1904 Dublin, the book follows in careful detail the rather uneventful life of Leopold Bloom, an Irish-Jew and advertising salesman whose wife is planning an affair. Bloom rises, eats breakfast, wanders the city, attends a funeral, reduces the son of a friend after a fight with a British soldier, and finally goes home to fall asleep in the bed where he can still detect the imprint of his wife’s lover. In Joyce’s hands, these otherwise unremarkable events take on mythic import as Bloom becomes a modern-day Odysseus, the Greek hero whose cunning and courage brought him safely home across a sea of dangers. Ulysses is thus a book about the terrors and triumphs of everyday life as well as the individual acts of heroism found in the simple act of living.
The book is known for its rigorous yet moving honest. Its sexually explicit passages led the U.S. government to ben Ulysses in 1920, a decision that remained in place until a 1933 ruling declared it a work of art. We now celebrate Joyce and his humane vision of the world each year on Bloomsday.
For 50 years, The University of Tulsa has been a vibrant center for the study of Joyce thanks to its publication of the James Joyce Quarterly and the rich holdings of TU’s McFarlin Library. To celebrate this anniversary, we have assembled an exhibition of rare materials that tell the story of Joyce’s life and his masterwork. This year, TU joins Guthrie Green and the George Kaiser Family Foundation to host Tulsa’s first-ever Bloomsday celebration. Beginning at 6:30 p.m. on June 16, there will be readings from the book, live music, and an Irish pub crawl through the Brady Arts District.
This exhibition is made possible by the James Joyce Quarterly, Oklahoma Center for the Humanities, McFarlin Library’s Department of Special Collections and University Archives, and the Henry Zarrow Center for Art and Education.
This evening the Zarrow center will be holding its First Friday exhibition from 6:00 to 9:00 pm. The featured material for this exhibit will be a first edition Ulysses from McFarlin Library’s Department of Special Collections and University Archives. Visitors will also be able to view this rare piece of literature on Bloomsday.