Several years ago I took a whirlwind tour of Ireland, which included a few days in Dublin. One of my most memorable experiences was taking a literary pub crawl through the city. Throughout the evening, the actor tour guides led us in the footsteps of James Joyce, Samuel Beckett and Oscar Wilde, among others.
While I can’t quite remember all the spouted prose, I’m sure our guides likely entertained us with selections from Joyce’s most seminal work, “Ulysses.” Today, June 16, marks Bloomsday, a celebration of the early 20th century Irish author and a nod to the novel, which recounts a day in the life of protagonist Leopold Bloom on June 16, 1904.
St. Olaf College student Johnna Purchase interned at the Library last year, where she worked in the Rare Book and Special Collections Division. She used her time to examine the material and cultural history of Joyce and his works, among other things. (You can read more about her internship here. Purchase delivered a lecture at the Library discussing her research, which you can see below.
Joyce also published several books of poetry. His book, “Chamber Music,” is a collection of 36 of his poems. Noted composer Samuel Barber was much influenced and inspired by Joyce’s writing. In 1936, he composed a series of songs set to poetry from “Chamber Music”: “Rain has fallen,” “I hear an army,” and “Solitary hotel.” Available as part of “The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America” presentation are audio and video recordings of these songs featuring baritone Thomas Hampson, who will perform at the Library July 3.
For more Joycean resources, search for “James Joyce” in the Library’s online catalog for a list of several electronic book resources.