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Concordia celebrates 100 years of James Joyce’s Ulysses

The School of Irish Studies will host an academic panel as part of Montreal Bloomsday festivities
June 6, 2022
James Joyce holding a young child.
Andre Furlani: “No writer more valued anniversaries than James Joyce, who scrambled to ensure that Ulysses would appear on his 40th birthday.”

It isn’t every day you turn 100.

James Joyce fans — a.k.a. Joyceans — are marking the 100th anniversary of his classic book Ulysses. And Concordia’s School of Irish Studies is joining in on Montreal’s Bloomsday Festival.

Ulysses has been around now for 100 years and still manages to puzzle, provoke, stimulate, tickle, befuddle, engage, infuriate, attract, irritate, compel, surprise and shock. Why?” asks Miles Murphy, a Concordia Irish studies student graduating this spring.

Murphy has organized three academic panels tied to Bloomsday, including a hybrid online-in-person edition this year.

“As Joyce once commented, ‘I’ve put in so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant, and that’s the only way of insuring one’s immortality.’”

The book, which runs over 265,000 words, chronicles a day in the life of protagonist Leopold Bloom and other characters in his orbit. It was influenced by Joyce’s relationship with his wife, Nora.

The Joycean importance of anniversaries

The panel organized by the school will feature speakers including Andre Furlani, professor of English in Concordia’s Faculty of Arts and Science and a School of Irish Studies fellow, who is an avid Joyce fan.

“No writer more valued anniversaries than James Joyce, who scrambled to ensure that Ulysses would appear on his 40th birthday,” Furlani says.

“The novel takes place on June 16, 1904, likely the date of Joyce’s first assignation with Nora Barnacle, with whom he soon eloped to the continent,” he notes.

“Personal, domestic, cultural, political and religious anniversaries abound in the novel and in his other work. Birthdays and anniversaries contribute to the recursive structure of Ulysses — life not as a straight line but cycles, spirals, loops.”

A spooky walking tour

The panel discussion takes place as part of a wider Montreal Bloomsday event, this year celebrating the novel’s centenary with a theme of “ripples.” There will be a focus on music, language — and even a ghost tour!

Concordia alum Donovan King (BFA 99), founder of Haunted Montreal, will lead a curated walking tour in Old Montreal as part of the festivities.

“Old Montreal is the city’s most haunted neighbourhood,” King explains. “The many spooky episodes the area has witnessed ripple through time, leaving a rich, haunted history, so I designed the tour to fit this theme.”

He adds that he is always happy to help people learn about Bloomsday. “With the novel’s 100th anniversary, and more in-person activities opening up, it’s a wonderful time to celebrate.”

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