By David Smith
16 June 2020
Address to the House of Representatives, Australian Parliament
'Bloomsday' is the celebration of the life if Irish writer James Joyce, observed on 16 June, the day his 1922 novel Ulysses takes place in 1904 and named after its protagonist, Leopold Bloom. Celebrations often re-enact the journey Bloom makes across Dublin, a mock epic that reflects the structure of Homer's Odyssey. It's almost a century since the novel's publication and, to the day, 116 years since the day this amazing book is set—a journey of exile, of history. It is a book, as T. S. Eliot said, 'to which we are all indebted, and from which none of us can escape'.
Ulysses revolts against history as hatred and violence. And while it's often said to be about everything, it is fundamentally about love. It is almost as funny as Derry Girls. It elevates everyday and ordinary lives to Homeric levels, injecting them with dignity. It finishes famously with Molly Bloom's thoughts and memories and the most practical demonstration of the nature of love, and ends on a note of reconciliation. In Ulysses, James Joyce faithfully re-created the sounds, smells and rhythms of Dublin from semi-exile with a painstaking eye to detail—a love letter to home. Bloomsday is a day that brings much of the Irish diaspora around the world together. Normally the Irish community would be celebrating Bloomsday at the Canberra Irish Club in Weston, in the heart of the Bean electorate. Happy Bloomsday to all!