Tonight’s beer, because it arrived on my doorstep, is an Australian bottle-conditioned ale, the Hahn Special Vintage 2000. A bottle-aged amber, the four-year-old beer pours dark-red to brown with a small, light weight head. Nose is malty and yeasty; initial taste is slightly sour, almost in a Rodenbach kind of way, but the subsequent taste is almost dusty. It’s drinkable, but I don’t think the vintage is aging particularly well. Kind of sad, for Australia’s first corked beer, but tasty nonetheless.
Today is the 100th anniversary of the events in James Joyce’s masterpiece, Ulysses. The novel, set on June 16, 1904, has been celebrated on that date since its 1922 publication with public readings and other celebrations.
Today’s celebrations, tinged though they are with the heavy handed legal threats of Joyce’s heirs toward “unauthorized public performances,” include an enormous volume of posts around the blogosphere and media. In no particular order:
- New York Times editorial: Bloomsday, 1904. Tilting against those who would decry the book for being elitist: “there is really no less elitist novel in the English language. Its stuff is the common life of man, woman and child. You take what you can, loping over the smooth spots and pulling up short when you need to. Dedalus may indulge in Latinate fancy, and Joyce may revel in literary mimicry. But the real sound of this novel is the sound of the street a century ago: the noise of centuries of streets echoing over the stones.”
- New York Times Book Review: Bloomsday, Bloody Bloomsday. John Banville spends a page online talking about his youthful efforts to get his hands on a copy of the book, and his consumption of critical response in lieu of the actual tome. Nice anecdote about the first Bloomsday, fifty years ago, which apparently ended after a scuffle between the organizer and a poet and devolved into inebriation.
- Village Voice: Happy Bloomsday! The writer points out that there is more than a little of the pagan ritual in the observance of the day, complete with “deep feeling, props, costumes, and food.”
- Bookslut points out that Slate’s weeklong Ulysses discussion has no Irish authors, and only one participating author so far.
- Bookslut also points to the BBC’s Cliff Notes to the Cliff Notes to Ulysses, so you too can sound like you know what you’re talking about. Amusing with this article to read the Joyce-bashing in the comments thread. These are probably the same bunch of people who think opera is to be endured. Nice comeback by Stephen Fry, though.
- BBC: Celebrations mark Joyce anniversary. Indicates that, contrary to earlier reports, there will be public readings on the streets of Dublin of the work.
- Seattle Times: Bloomsday’s 100th celebrated in print and with a Seattle reading. The Seattle reading will be at UW, a little bit out of my way and a little out of the spirit of the celebrations.
- My own Bloomsday participation, unless I can find an Eastside pub where there is a reading: an excerpt from the Wandering Rocks chapter.
- Tom Harpel suggests that at least one other kindred spirit will be at our local Redmond Irish pub, the Celtic Bayou.
- Ben Hammersley posts an excerpt of the conclusion of the novel, and points to a new page-a-day Ulysses RSS feed, courtesy Jason White. Holy copyright violations!
Which sets me to a goal for next year, as I fear it’s too late for this one; if I can get a few hundred people to post a page or two of the text to their blog, we could have a virtual Bloomsday reading. Any takers?