James Joyce fans trek to Dublin to mark this year's 'Bloomsday'

June 18, 1992|By New York Times News Service

DUBLIN -- Stately plump Buck Mulligan would recognize the tower overlooking Dublin Bay where the events in James Joyce's "Ulysses" began the morning of June 16, 1904.

But Mr. Mulligan, who was modeled on Oliver St. John Gogarty, a poet, critic, surgeon, prankster, friend and enemy of Joyce, might be inclined to wit-lash some of the ways in which Dublin marks Bloomsday -- its annual celebration of all things Joycean -- and the moves of Leopold Bloom and others in the novel.

There were commercial events celebrating the writer, who spent much of his adult life trying to borrow money, and a weeklong scholarly symposium, sponsored by Trinity College and Bailey's, the liquor company.

Mary Robinson, the president of Ireland, opened the ceremonies on Monday, reminding visitors that Joyce knew Greek, and so would know that symposium is made up of the Greek words for together and drinking.

David Norris, a Joyce scholar at Trinity, suggested that the visitors should "try not to have your wallet snatched." In an interview he noted that "the disinfectant impact of the aroma of money has successfully sanitized the reputation of James Joyce," whose works were banned as immoral here and elsewhere.

Other events Tuesday included a reading by the actor Cyril Cusack at the St. Stephen's Green Shopping Center of a "Dubliners" story, "Two Gallants." Stephen Joyce, the author's grandson, who is hostile to the Joyce literary establishment, was in Galway to read "The Cat and the Devil," a story his grandfather made up for him.

At the gray stone tower, which has been modernized a bit with European Community money and has a 12-star community flag stuck to the outside wall, Joyceans started arriving at 8 a.m., some dressed as Edwardian dandies, itching to read from "Ulysses" to a small captive audience of photographers, sound technicians and visitors at the parapet.

Kay Fitzgerald, 75, said she first read "Ulysses" 60 years ago in Dublin.

"My father caught me," she said. "I thought I was for it. But all he said was: 'You won't get as much out of it as I did. You're the wrong generation.' " Since then, she said, she has kept reading Joyce.

And there were lectures and lunches where the Joyceans could chew their favorite ideas, passages, theories and the same kind of food Bloom ate in the novel, starting with kidneys for breakfast.

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