Bloomsday at St. Patrick’s Parade

The intrepid Bloomsday team of Miriam, Alex, Yves, Kevin, and Louise proudly hoisted the Bloomsday banner high during the Saint Patrick’s Parade on Sunday, March 22.  David and Judith only made it as far as the corner of Fort and Ste. Catherine.   The first official celebration of aMarching in St. Pat's Parade St. Patrick’s parade took place on March 17, 1824.  In 1928, the United Irish Societies of Montreal was founded with the mandate to continue organizing  the parades. They held their first parade in 1929. The U.I.S. is still organizing the St. Patrick’s Parade today.  Find out more about the history of the parade and the determination of the Irish to have it continue on the parade’s history corner written by Don Pidgeon, local historian and storyteller.

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New Links Added

Note that we have added two links:

1. A Plot summary of Ulysses developed by the Rosenbach Library in Philadelphia

2. A link to the complete on-line text of Finnegans Wake

Also – take a look at our updated Events for June 2015 as well and the new blog page devoted to the Finnegans Wake reading group.

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Finnegans Wake Group Begins

riverrun, past Eve and Adam’s, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs.

This is the first line of  The Wake…

Last night (March 18th) 16 people met and began the exciting process of reading James Joyce’s final novel – Finnegans Wake. We sat around a solid table in the very lovely Westmount Library Board room.  It was a dynamic and lively bunch of folks and, after introductions, managed to delve into the famous first line and to start coming to terms with the second paragraph!

It is amazing what layers and depths of meaning Joyce puts into every word. Example:  Why capitalize Howth Castle and Environs?  How about our hero:  Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker? OR Hear Comes Everybody?

To listen to the words as spoken by Patrick Healy go here:

To hear a sample read by Joyce himself:

Our next meeting is in three weeks: same time, same place -  April 15th at 7 p.m.


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Montreal to Have a Finnegans Wake Reading Group Next Week

bkWakeOWC1aSo you bought the book and it’s been sitting in your bookshelf for awhile now. But have you mustered up the courage to finally open up and read James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake? Have no fear! Montreal Bloomsday will be holding our first Finnegans Wake reading group and everyone is invited!

Whether you’re a Joyce fan, a student, or a simpleton of Montreal, we invite you to join us this Wednesday March 18th, 2015 from 7:00 – 8:00pm at the Westmount Public Library (4574 Sherbrooke Street West, Westmount, H3Z 1G1) to dive into the subconscious of Joyce’s final novel. The group will be meeting from thereon afterwards every third Wednesday of the month. Stay tuned on our Facebook page and keep yourself posted! PLEASE BRING YOUR COPY OF FINNEGANS WAKE WITH YOU

Did you know that there are Finnegans Wake reading groups all over the world? Not only do they take place at the James Joyce Foundation in Zurich where they’ve been reading Ulysses and Finnegans Wake for years with Fritz Senn, but there are groups held in Amsterdam, Berkeley California, Brisbane Australia and even in small town universities such as Brock University in Ontario. So come on down and reJoyce as we kickoff a new chapter in the Finnegans Wake reading group directory here in Montreal! Get yourself acquainted with Joyce once again before we celebrate Bloomsday in June!

Still hesitating? Check out this black and white film directed by Mary Ellen Bute titled Passages from James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake available online Passages from James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake.


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On This Day in Joycean History

UlyssesNotebookMarch 1st, 1914 marks the day in which James Joyce started writing Ulysses. Started is the key word here as the Irish author had other projects to complete in the meantime. These included the Egoist‘s publication of  A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man sequentially a month earlier, the publication process of Dubliners with his publisher, Grant Richards, and the prospect of completing his play Exiles which Joyce started writing in 1913. Nevertheless, his project on completing Ulysses was set aside and wasn’t picked up again until the following year. On June 16th 1915, Joyce announced to his brother Stanislaus that he had completed the first episode of Ulysses as well as an outline to the structure of the book. Who knew the birth of the first episode would be celebrated on this special date 100 years later!

For more information and further readings on this day in Joycean history, check out Dublin’s James Joyce Center website.

Miriam Mokrusa for Festival Bloomsday Montreal.

Source: “On This Day…1 March.” The James Joyce Center. N.P. 1 March 2014. Web. 1 March 2015.

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Kevin Birmingham to Close Festival Bloomsday Montreal 2015

What does the subject of Kevin Birmingham’s The Most Dangerous Book have in common with the Charlie Hebdo tragedy? Since early January, the murder of the twelve Charlie Hebdo staff sparked debates on the concept of freedom of expression or freedom of speech in art within the news and social media platforms. Contemporary authors, such as Salman Rushdie who lived years under the death threat after the publication of his book The Satanic Verses in 1988, spoke out on the subject of the Charlie Hebdo murders in anger, while justifying that art has the capacity to push the artist to the edge: “[…] artists who go to that edge and push outwards often find very powerful forces pushing back. They find the forces of silence opposing the forces of speech. The forces of censorship against the forces of banned booksutterance” (Rushdie)

With Rushdie’s words in mind, one can easily think of James Joyce and his experience with “the forces of censorship” in the early twentieth century—particularly the 1933 case that occurred in the United States District Court regarding Ulysses and freedom of expression. The trial between the United States and Random House publishing group demonstrated whether or not Ulysses was an obscene piece of literature. The case brought up the sexual content of the novel, the blasphemous remarks against the church, as well as the indecency of the language being used. Yet Random House contested that the text was not offensive and was protected by the first Amendment of the American Constitution with respect to freedom of speech. In the end, Judge M. Woolsey ruled that the book was not obscene at all and that Joyce expressed the realities of our thoughts. Moreover, Woolsey considered the text as a whole when making his decision, rather than focusing on particular fragments of vulgarity, indecency, profanity, pornography and four-letter words.

Of course, this is only one of many instances in which Joyce’s works faced censorship issues. As it is demonstrated in his letters to his editors, Joyce himself had censorship problems in regardBirminghams to his other works, like “The Dead” for example. Yet it is understandable why Ulysses was perceived as an almost illicit piece of literature as many considered it a “dirty” book. Today, the discussion of Ulysses on trial has re-opened thanks to the recent publication of The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce’s Ulysses by Kevin Birmingham. Birmingham’s text presents to the reader a biography of Ulysses and its reception during the turn of the twentieth century (A review of Birmingham’s text can be found in an earlier post here). This Bloomsday, we are excited to announce that Kevin Birmingham himself will be closing up our Festival Bloomsday Montréal 2015 with a talk on his recent book. Wouldn’t it be interesting to ask Birmingham his opinion on the recent Charlie Hebdo tragedy after the publication of his research on “the forces of censorship against the forces of utterance”?

Make sure to catch Kevin Birmingham’s discussion on The Most Dangerous Book on June 16th, 2015 at the Jewish Public Library (5151 Côte Ste-Catherine) at 7:30 pm. Admission is $10 for members and students / $15 for the general public. An Irish style reception will follow.

Miriam Mokruša for Festival Bloomsday Montreal

Cited: Rushdie, Salman. “Salman Rushdie on Charlie Hebdo: freedom of speech can only be absolute.” The Guardian 15 Jan. 2015 Web.

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Canadian Connections to James Joyce

On his way to work in 1922 Barnett Braverman, a friend of Ernest Hemingway and the first ‘booklegger’ of Ulysses (as Birmingham calls him), took a copy a day of Ulysses into the USA on the Windsor/Detroit ferry. The book wasn’t yet banned in Canada. See full story: Windsor’s word smuggler

Another Canadian connection. Marshall McLuhan used the works of James Joyce extensively in his own work. This article deals with the source of many of McLuhan’s most startling observations regarding art, society and technology and James Joyce. See full article:

One quotation from McLuhan:  “Looking at Joyce recently. A bit startled to note that the last page of Finnegans Wake is a rendering of the last part of the Mass. Remembered that the opening of Ulysses is from the first words of the Mass. The whole thing is an intellectual Black Mass.” (McLuhan, 1987:183)

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