Get ready for Bloomsday!

June 15, 2012 at 6:37 am (BBC, good honest filth, Ireland, Jim D, literature, modernism, surrealism)

(FILES) An undated reproduction of a pho

James Joyce: all day on Radio 4

Saturday 16 June is Bloomsday, the date that the apparently mundane perambulations of the characters in Ulysses take place. Joyce’s novel is one of the great milestones in modernism, but there’ no denying that it’s heavy going and probably ranks asa one of the great unread books of the twentieth century. I gave up a few years ago at the chapter that begins “Deshil Holles Eamus. Deshil Holles Eamus. Deshil Holles Eamus. Send us bright one, light one Horhorn, quickening and wombfruit…”
People who’ve struggled through to the end tell me it’s well worth the time and effort: a rich, boozy, bawdy, song-filled celebration of words and thoughts, centred round the kindly figure of Poldy Bloom (though his unfaithful, sex-loving wife Molly and Joyce’s alter ego Stephen Dedalus are, in their ways, equally as important). Like many others, I’ve long promised myself that one day I’ll finish it.
Well now the BBC is doing at least some of the hard graft for me and my fellow Ulysses-shirkers. Tomorrow, Radio 4 is devoting the entire day to the novel, with a five-and-a-half hour unabridged dramatisation, punctuated by Mark Lawson in Dublin, discussing the book’s place in twentieth century literature. Henry Goodman, who plays Poldy in the dramatisation, will start the ball rolling by cooking kidneys on the Today programme. Molly’s Bloom’s stream of consciousness soliloquy (where most of the really racy stuff comes) is, conveniently for the BBC, at the end of the novel and so after the 9.00 pm watershed.
It may seem an indulgence on the part of Radio 4 to devote an entire day to one book – even a book as important as this one. No doubt some listeners will object, although news, Any Questions and Women’s Hour will survive non non-Joycean form. But Radio 4 is supposed to be about serious current affairs coverage and arts programming. It’s supposed to educate as well as entertain. It’s supposed to treat its audience, in other words, as adults. Which is why I’m looking forward to Bloomsday – and the prospect is all the sweeter because (if only for one blessed week), it means the disapperance of the insufferable Saturday Live, a programme whose twee middle class banality represents everything that Radio 4 must not be allowed to become.
Yes I said yes I will Yes.


  1. Jim Denham said,

    My friend Jo Lea sent me this:

    This week, BBC trustees are interviewing for the most important job at the BBC – Director General. Politicians are leaning on them hard, demanding they hire someone with party political bias. [1] We can use the next few days to help stop this happening.

    Over 40,000 of us have already added our names to the letter demanding the BBC Trust safeguards the independence of the BBC. The campaign is even getting talked about in national newspapers. [2]

    Together, we’re proving that protecting the BBC from political interference is really important to the public. If enough of us sign our names, the Trust will feel the pressure of public opinion and this could influence their decision when deciding who to appoint as the next Director General.

    Please can you help keep the pressure up on the BBC Trust by asking more people to add their name too?

    Please forward this email and ask your friends to sign by clicking here:

    The BBC is loved and respected all over the world. People rely on its news reporting. If it loses its independence, that reputation is put at risk.

    We know we can influence the BBC Trust. Two years ago, we helped save BBC 6Music by convincing them to drop their plans to close the station. [3] Let’s do it again and show that the public wants someone who’s loyal to public service broadcasting, not a political party.

    We are planning to deliver the letter by Wednesday next week, so let’s aim to get past 60,000 signatures before then.

    If you use Facebook, please also share the BBC letter by clicking here:

    If you use Twitter, please also send a ‘Tweet’ about the BBC letter by clicking here:

    Please spread the word in every way you can.

    Thanks for being involved,

    Hannah, Belinda, Marie, James, David T, Cian, Becky, David and the 38 Degrees team

    [1] The Telegraph: Next head of BBC must be a Tory says Boris Johnson
    [2] The Guardian: BBC director general petition gets more than 35,000 signatures
    [3] The Independent: BBC 6 Music saved from closure
    38 Degrees Blog: BBC Announcement: They listened to us

  2. daggi said,

    Five and a half hours? “All day?” The 22 hour long radio adaptation I’ll be listening to is surely more like “all day”. There’s a down side, though. It’s in German.

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