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ReJoyce: 100th Anniversary of Bloomsday

abstract:Centennial celebrations of James Joyce and his sprawling masterpiece Ulysses continue around the world all summer. Not near any of the happenings? We interviewed documentary filmmaker Fritzi Horstman on her work titled, Joyce to the World. Get inspired...

article:

June 26, 2004

BookBuffet caught-up with Fritzi Horstman at a recent fundraiser and discussed her life and the film:

BookBuffet: Fritzi, is an unusual name - what is your full name?

FH:Fredrika Ann.  Fredrick’s nickname is “Fritz” so Fritzi is the female nickname.

BB:What is your background; how did you get into film making?

FH:I’ve been a filmmaker since college.  I was 16 when I decided I’d become a filmmaker after watching Hitchcock’s “Strangers on a Train.”  I made short films in college (Vassar) and took a course at NYU.  I made several short films including “Downtown” which won at the USA Film Festival in Dallas.  In 1996 I directed a feature: “Take A Number” which premiered at Slamdance and was shown on HBO and Cinemax.

BB:When did you develop an interest in Joyce; tell us about your research to prepare for this film?

FH:I’ve always been interested in Joyce.   Since college, I’ve wanted to read “Ulysses.”   I have bought and sold copies of “Ulysses” three times.  When working on a film in Dublin three years ago, I heard that they celebrated “Ulysses” every year at Bloomsday.  I thought it strange that not only had people read “Ulysses” but they were actually celebrating it.  I became fascinated with the subject and lived, breathed and slept Joyce for the past year.

BB:What did you learn from making this documentary about cultural differences or similarities - does literature transcend boundaries?

FH:As you will see in the film, “Ulysses” (and Bloomsday) is truly an international phenomenon.  It is translated into dozens of language including Chinese, Japanese, Swedish and Russian.  “Ulysses” is the story of all of us.  What we do in the morning, what we think about walking down the street, what we’re going to have for dinner.  It’s the story of the mundane and the everyday and it’s our story no matter our race, nationality or religion.  I think this explains why Bloomsday is celebrated all over the world and why Joyce continues to live on in our consciousness.

BB:Give us an example of one of the more unusual Bloomsdays.

FH:Melbourne probably has the most interpretive and elaborate Bloomsday celebrations.  They take the seed of a chapter like when Bloom visits a pregnant woman at a maternity hospital and turn the whole giving birth process into an elaborate sperm processional walking into a dome-shaped building.  They really go all out in Melbourne.   

BB:Do you know what percentage of the population has actually read Ulysses and is there a national or regional preference or sensitivity - for example places with a higher Irish or UK immigrant population, or places that relate to a sense of exile from one's homeland, etc.

FH:I have no idea what the numbers are.  I know there are a lot of Joyceans flocking to Ireland this summer for the centenary, however.

BB:Are you involved with any other events/showings of this work and what is the process for people get in touch with you?

FH:The film has been shown around the world and I try to make the screenings if time/money permits.  I would love to show the film to any and all book groups, etc. and if we can work out the logistics, I would love to make an appearance.  People seem to love the film and it has inspired many wary readers to actually take another crack at reading “Ulysses,” including me!

 

"Ulysses, first published in Paris in 1922 and voted the best book of the century by the New York Times in 2002, recounts the adventures of Leopold Bloom on a single day in Dublin: June 16, 1904. The day is now known as Bloomsday—a sort of literary holiday that has become a tradition for Joyce enthusiasts everywhere. [This] month millions of writers, scholars, and readers will take part in the centennial celebration of Bloomsday, attending readings, lectures, performances, exhibitions, film screenings, writing workshops, and other events planned in cities around the world."  Lucy Gordon, Poets & Writers Magazine

Links & Resources

ReJoyce Dublin 2004: the official centennial website with news, information and happenings.

BookBuffet Author Spotlight: James Joyce

James Joyce (1882). Born outside of Dublin, Ireland, Joyce lived abroad for most of his adult life in a legendary literary exile. One of the most radical innovators of twentieth-century writing, Joyce's epic, Ulysses, is a tour de force of linguistic genius. It was published in 1922 on his 40th birthday by bookseller Sylvia Beach under the imprint Shakespeare and Company in Paris, France. All 1,000 copies were sold out within a month. It was subsequently labeled blasphemous, obscene, and unreadable—and a modernist masterpiece.

 

Four Major Works:

Recommended Resources and Links:

Intimidated by Joyce's reputation for difficulty? Read "The Artfull Eye," a somewhat fanatical essay on why you should read Joyce. 

 

Dubliners Resource Web: background information—Irish politics, history, Catholicism, and life in Dublin at the turn of the 20th century—for the study and appreciation of Dubliners

 

Brandon Kershner's Portrait Page: biography, criticism, and notes for A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man by the editor of the Bedford Books edition of the novel. 

 

The Internet Ulysses: a chapter-by-chapter breakdown of Ulysses with Homeric parallels, maps, links, and real audio readings. 

 

Ulysses Annotated: by Don Gifford, this is the essential bible to reading the novel.

 

Finnegans Wake: this online introduction to Finnegans Wake is a work-in-progress.

 

James Joyce Resource Center: presented by the International James Joyce Foundation, these pages provide primary reference sources for anyone interested in Joyce. 

 

Also, consider viewing:

  • The Dead (1987), starring Anjelica Huston, based on the Joyce short story of the same name (in Dubliners).
  • Nora (2002), starring Ewan McGregor as Joyce and Susan Lynch as his wife Nora, a film about the famous literary lovers.
  • Joyce to the World (2004), a celebration of Bloomsday around the world. Produced and directed by Fritzi Horstman.

Ulysses for Dummies: Still not convinced? Read this amusing parody of the novel done chapter by chapter in cartoon form—hey, it's for dummies!  Then get inspired to stage a Bloomsday celebration of your own. Dressing up in turn of the century costumes, drinking warm beer, reading from Ulysses, what could be more fun?

More Bloomsday Titles

Since 1966 readers new to James Joyce have depended upon this guide to "Ulysses" in negotiating their way through this formidable, remarkable novel. It is a page-by-page, line-by-line running commentary on the plot of "Ulysses", which illuminates symbolic themes and structures along the way.

The book balances chapters or sections which introduce new contexts of, or aspects for approaching "Ulysses", followed by varying opinions and ideas about Joyce and his work.

Published to coincide with the centenary of Bloomsday on June 16, 2004, this unique study uses more than 100 maps and photographs to examine the importance of Ulysses's basis in physical fact, showing how characters move around the city and how the novel works in terms of time and place.

 

 

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