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Giugno 2016
il 16 giugno è Bloomsday! Dublino è in festa: si celebra James Joyce. La commemorazione annuale prende il nome da Leopold Bloom, il protagonista di Ulisse, romanzo che si svolge tutto in una sola giornata: il 16 giugno 1904. Il giorno perfetto per una visita in città...

di Alastair Peel

File audio:

Speaker: Derek Allen (Standard British accent)

June 16th is Bloomsday. This is in honour of the Irish writer, James Joyce. The events in his 1922 novel, Ulysses, all take place on one day: June 16th, 1904. And so people gather in Dublin on the anniversary. Many of them dress up in Edwardian costumes. Bloomsday is also international. There are celebrations in the United States, Australia, Hungary and even Italy. Joyce lived in Trieste for many years and wrote part of Ulysses there.


Bloomsday has this name because Leopold Bloom is one of Ulysses’s two main characters. The other is Stephen Dedalus, who is based on the young James Joyce. Bloom is Jewish and his father was born in Hungary.
June 16th, 1904 was personally important for Joyce because it was the day he first went out with his future wife, Nora Barnacle. He used the name Ulysses because he modelled the book on Homer’s Odyssey. The characters wander around Dublin in the same way Odysseus or Ulysses wandered around the Mediterranean.


The publication of Ulysses was an important event. 1922 was also the year that T.S. Eliot published his long poem The Waste Land. Some critics say that was the year that modern literature began. Today Ulysses is considered a masterpiece, but it wasn’t at the time. It was considered obscene and was originally published in Paris. The publisher was Sylvia Beach, the American owner of the Shakespeare & Company bookstore.


Ulysses may be an important book but it is also a very difficult one. Many mother-tongue English readers have tried to read it, but have given up. Another Joyce novel, Finnegans Wake, is even more difficult. If you want to read Joyce in the original language, then we recommend less complicated books like Dubliners, a collection of short stories, and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, which also features Joyce’s alter ego, Stephen Dedalus.


Bloomsday, like Ulysses, is a celebration of Dublin, a city that has produced many great writers. The celebrations include readings from Ulysses, but also visits to the places it describes: they include houses, Sweny’s the chemist’s and pubs like Davey Byrne’s. The first Bloomsday celebration took place in 1924, but it didn’t become significant until 1954, when a group of Irish writers decided to honour the 50th anniversary. They wanted to go on a literary pilgrimage in Dublin, but they concentrated on the pubs. They abandoned their pilgrimage because they were too drunk.

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Many of them dress up in Edwardian costumes. Molti di loro si vestono in stile edoardiano. Vestirsi in inglese si dice to get dressed oppure to wear. Il phrasal verb to dress up invece significa vestirsi in modo elegante, oppure vestirsi in costume (come a carnevale).

The characters wander around Dublin. I personaggi vagano per le strade di Dublino. To wander significa girovagare. Spesso si confonde con to wonder (domandarsi): la pronuncia è simile ma lo spelling è diverso. Molti madrelingua fanno questo errore.

But have given up. Ma hanno rinunciato. Il phrasal verb to give up significa rinunciare, arrendersi, smettere. Ad esempio: I’ve given up smoking: ho smesso di fumare.

The chemist’s. La farmacia. Questo è un false friend: non significa 'chimica' (che si dice chemistry). In American English invece si dice pharmacy.