Filed under: Literature | Tags: 16 June 1904, Bloomsday, Dublin, James Joyce, Leopold Bloom, Molly Bloom, Nora Barnacle, Stephen Dedalus, Ulysses, Yes
On 16 June 1904, James Joyce and Nora Barnacle had their first date, after Nora has stood up James two days prior. They walked to Ringsend, a small park near Dublin’s harbour, and may-or-may-not have engaged in intimate speculation. At any rate, the date made enough of an impression on Joyce that he used that day as the genesis of one of the masterpieces of the twentieth century, Ulysses (1922). The novel charts the diurnal, prosaic activities of Stephen Dedalus, Leopold and Molly Bloom, along with dozens of other Dubliners, and whatever else occurred on today’s date, 105 years ago. Not only did he set his most famous book on the date, he married her. When Joyce’s father heard that his son had run away with a 20-year-old chambermaid from Galway, he replied with characteristic caustic wit, ‘Barnacle? She’ll never leave him.’
Whatever Barnacle’s effect on the characters in Ulysses (particularly to Joyce’s updated Madame Bovary, Molly), she seems to constitute his only irreplaceable relationship. To celebrate their relationship, and the frustrating but virtuoso writing that it produced, here is the perambulatory, exhausted mind of Molly Bloom thinking fondly, tragically, beautifully of her cuckolded husband as she drifts off to sleep after a day of decadence, dissent and delicious adultery:
God after that long kiss I near lost my breath yes he said I was a flower of the mountain yes so we are flowers all a womans body yes that was one true thing he said in his life and the sun shines for you today yes that was why I liked him because I saw he understood or felt what a woman is and I knew I could always get round him and I gave him all the pleasure I could leading him on till he asked me to say yes and I wouldnt answer first only looked out over the sea and the sky I was thinking of so many things he didnt know of Mulvey and Mr Stanhope and Hester and father and old captain Groves and the sailors playing all birds fly and I say stoop and washing up dishes they called it on the pier and the sentry in front of the governors house with the thing round his white helmet poor devil half roasted and the Spanish girls laughing in their shawls and their tall combs and the auctions in the morning the Greeks and the jews and the Arabs and the devil knows who else from all the ends of Europe and Duke street and the fowl market all clucking outside Larby Sharons and the poor donkeys slipping half asleep and the vague fellows in the cloaks asleep in the shade on the steps and the big wheels of the carts of the bulls and the old castle thousands of years old yes and those handsome Moors all in white and turbans like kings asking you to sit down in their little bit of a shop and Ronda with the old windows of the posadas 2 glancing eyes a lattice hid for her lover to kiss the iron and the wineshops half open at night and the castanets and the night we missed the boat at Algeciras the watchman going about serene with his lamp and O that awful deepdown torrent O and the sea the sea crimson sometimes like fire and the glorious sunsets and the figtrees in the Alameda gardens yes and all the queer little streets and the pink and blue and yellow houses and the rosegardens and the jessamine and geraniums and cactuses and Gibraltar as a girl where I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.