Thursday, November 21, 2013


Seventeen year old James Joyce must have begun contemplating a modern Odyssey when he read this challenge from W.B. Yeats:

"I think that we will learn again how to describe at great length an old man wandering among enchanted islands, his return home at last, his slow gathering vengeance, a flitting shape of a goddess, and a flight of arrows..." [May 1899]

The plotline that Joyce borrows from Homer requires primarily a hero who resolves a series of challenges and finally reclaims his home and his wife.

Joyce chose to keep his hero as ordinary as possible: Leopold Bloom, and packs the challenges into a single Dublin day.

WHO: Leopold Bloom
WHERE: Dublin, Ireland
WHEN: 16 June 1904

One-fourth Jewish, Bloom's home is Ireland but he's viewed as an outsider.

His attractive wife is unsatisfied and has scheduled a sexual liaison. Bloom knows this and plans to stay away.

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