Sunday, June 15, 2014

An App for Bloomsday

Those who are not fanatical about the writings of James Joyce should probably be warned that tomorrow is a major day for those who are. Joyce's challenging (and, for some, offensive) novel Ulysses takes place, in its entirety, over the course of a single day, June 16, 1904. According to its Wikipedia entry, Joyce aficionados have been celebrating June 16, which came to be called "Bloomsday," named after the protagonist of the novel who parallels Odysseus in the Homeric epic Odyssey, since 1924. Some celebrations have used the occasion to real aloud the entirety of the novel. The one time I attended a celebration, at Symphony Space in New York, only selected excerpts were read; but the program also included readings from Finnegans Wake.

Nevertheless, there are many who find Ulysses little more than an inscrutable puzzle, wondering whether or not working on the puzzle is worth the effort. It is thus no surprise that, in this age of "digital reading," such folks can now be greeted with the familiar motto, "There's an app for that!" Naxos has now released an iPad app called James Joyce's Ulysses: A Guide. It includes not only the unabridged version of the novel with 800 annotations but also the complete text of the Odyssey. There is also a wealth of background material, including extracts of the music that Joyce cites in the novel.

Personally, I would prefer to stick to the print version (both editions, if necessary), but reading it with a laptop at my side; so, if I need to track down a particular line of thought, I have the Internet close at hand to assist!

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