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TIL – James Joyce Edition

Today I Learned (TIL) is my play on Reddit’s highly entertaining and informative forum.

I recently read my first James Joyce novel, Dubliners (thank you Carolyn for stopping me from adding “the” in front the title). The review will be posted soon on Carolyn’s blog, Rosemary and Reading Glasses, but looking back I feel that my review was written hastily and probably doesn’t reflect a respect for Joyce that has developed over the last couple of weeks. Reading about Joyce’s life, getting context to his work and re-reading passages in Dubliners has made me really appreciate his talent as a writer and poet. I look forward to when I finally take on Ulysses.

In the meantime, Joyce had a fascinating life and there are all sorts of interesting stories about him. But as always, I love when literature and pop culture intersect and thought I would share five little factoids I picked up in my research.

sunrise

Before Sunrise

All of the events in one of my all-time favourite movies Before Sunrise, starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delphy, take place on June 16th, just like in Joyce’s Ulysses. As many of you probably know, Joyce chose this date because it marks his first (unsuccessful) date with his wife. June 16th would go on to be known as Bloomsday, a day to commemorate and celebrate Joyce and reenact what happens in the book.

simposns

The Simpsons

The likeness of James Joyce appeared in several episodes of The Simpsons.

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Kate Bush

Musician, Kate Bush waited more than 20 years for permission to use passages from Ulysses that she interwove in her song, The Sensual World. When Kate first approached Joyce’s estate about using text from Molly Bloom’s soliloquay, they refused and she wrote her own lyrics instead. Once granted permission, Kate revamped The Sensual World and created a new song called Flower of the Mountain.

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Marilyn Monroe

Actress, Marilyn Monroe claimed Ulysses was one of her favourite books and she has been famously photographed reading the book. Eve Arnold, the photographer behind the pics, said Marilyn had the book at their shoot. Marilyn told Arnold she liked to read the words out loud to understand the book better. Some dispute arose as to whether Marilyn actually read Ulysses or if the photos were merely a PR stunt; however, Marilyn’s personal library was catalogued following her death and proves the actress, at least, owned a copy of the book.

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James Joyce Award

The Literary and Historical Society of the University College Dublin annually gives out the James Joyce Award to anyone who achieves outstanding success in their given field. Previous winners include Will Ferrell, Jack White, Desmond Tutu, Noam Chomsky, Tony Hawk and J.K. Rowling. In 2013, YouTube star, Jenna Marbles received the award leaving me question even more what this award is about. But anyhoo …

What is your favourite story or fact about James Joyce?

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13 comments on “TIL – James Joyce Edition

  1. Juliana @ Epilogues
    January 9, 2014

    I was thinking the same thing when I saw Will Farrell and Jenna Marbles in the same sentence as Desmond Tutu haha. The winners are kind of all over the board!

    I have never seen Before Sunrise but I’d really like to. The third one just came out recently, didn’t it? That was the first I ever heard of the series.

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      January 10, 2014

      It’s definitely a mixed-up group of winners! Before Sunrise is a really good movie and I highly recommend it. I think you will find it romantic, charming and intelligent. I have grown up with the movie characters since we are roughly the same age. The second and third movies are good too for different reasons, but that’s all I’ll say for now! 🙂

      Like

  2. Ekaterina
    January 10, 2014

    Very interesting! I’m yet to read my first Joyce, but I’m gradually getting more and more intrigued about him and his work 🙂

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      January 10, 2014

      I was intimidated by Joyce and probably would have held off on reading his work if Carolyn hadn’t recommended Dubliners as my Secret Santa book. But I’m glad I did because he is talented and had such an interesting life.

      Like

  3. Riv @ Bookish Realm
    January 10, 2014

    I love such posts! Somehow they make those intimidating authors a bit more accessible (or maybe it’s just an illusion…) I haven’t tried any Joyce yet (or maybe I did in uni but honestly I don’t remember a thing), but definitely one day.

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      January 10, 2014

      Wow, that’s a great point! Maybe Joyce did become more accessible to me once I began reading more about his life and getting a better idea of how he wrote. I’m beginning to think I shouldn’t rush to write reviews, I should just take the time to let the story sink in and spend some time getting to know the author and what the background to the book.

      Like

      • Riv @ Bookish Realm
        January 11, 2014

        I have discovered regarding myself that the more I know about the author and the perception of the author by others, the easier it becomes to understand their writing as well. If I know nothing about an author he/she tends to remain this very anonymous, vague, threatening essence that I am afraid I will not understand. Not rushing the reviews is a good idea as well I think (though in my case I sometimes leave 3 months between a book and a review – not that good! :D)

        Like

        • ebookclassics
          January 13, 2014

          LOL … yes 3 months is probably not good! I would have forgotten everything by then.

          Like

  4. Vine Vampire
    January 10, 2014

    Haha, Jenna Marbles!

    Like

  5. Roof Beam Reader
    January 10, 2014

    Great post! I have a new respect for Joyce, too. I’m almost done with Ulysses – have been hosting a readalong for it this past month. It was my third attempt (the first two didn’t go well) but I absolutely loved it this time around.

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      January 10, 2014

      So great to hear you’re enjoying Ulysses this time. I wanted to join the read-a-long, but I didn’t think I was ready for Joyce and it just so happened Carolyn picked Dubliners for me anyway. I’m so glad I had the chance to discover his writing. Hope you enjoy the rest of Ulysses!

      Like

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