Blooms­day!

Con­sulate Gen­eral of Ire­land in Shanghai cel­e­brates writer James Joyce

Global Times – Metro Shanghai - - FRONT PAGE - By Chen Shasha

An im­por­tant Ir­ish tra­di­tional fes­ti­val com­mem­o­rat­ing the renowned writer James Joyce, Blooms­day, which falls on June 16 ev­ery year, has been cel­e­brated in Shanghai by the Con­sulate Gen­eral of Ire­land for 14 years, with more and more Chi­nese join­ing in.

This year, the Ir­ish con­sulate in­vited guests for a one-hour cruise along the Huangpu River in Lu­ji­azui area. Dif­fer­ent sec­tions of the boat were dec­o­rated ac­cord­ing to the scenes de­scribed in Joyce’s in­flu­en­tial book Ulysses: the Joyce Gallery, Davy Byrne’s Pub, Mollys Par­lour and Sandy­mount Strand.

The ac­tiv­ity at­tracted about 150 peo­ple, in­clud­ing Ir­ish Joyce ex­perts and mu­si­cians, mem­bers of the lo­cal Ir­ish ex­pat com­mu­nity and Chi­nese lit­er­ary ex­perts and fans of Joyce. Many were en­cour­aged to dress up in vin­tage clothes. Straw boater hats, a fea­tured Blooms­day item, light­ened up the fes­tive at­mos­phere. Two guests won the Blooms­day fash­ion prize for the best Joy­cian-themed out­fit.

Guests were also able to en­joy the river­side scenery as the boat jour­neyed through the heart of Shanghai. Some read aloud ex­cerpts from Joyce’s stream of con­scious­ness writ­ing in Ulysses, which is a fixed tra­di­tional pro­gram of the fes­ti­val.

A mu­tual friend­ship

Blooms­day is named af­ter Leopold Bloom, the hero in Ulysses. It cel­e­brates June 16, 1904, the sin­gle day in the novel that de­picts the life and thoughts of Bloom and other char­ac­ters be­tween 8 am through the fol­low­ing morn­ing. Blooms­day is cel­e­brated in many coun­tries and in­cludes read­ings, per­for­mances, vin­tage-style cos­tumes and vis­it­ing places which re­sem­ble the places de­scribed in the fa­mous book.

Therese Healy, Con­sul Gen­eral of Ire­land in Shanghai, said at the event that she hopes the ac­tiv­ity will help Chi­nese peo­ple to know more about Ir­ish lit­er­a­ture and his­tory and deepen the mu­tual un­der­stand­ing and friend­ship be­tween the Ir­ish and China.

Noel O’Grady, a Joyce ex­pert and singer, shared with the au­di­ence the im­por­tance of mu­sic and songs to Joyce, sto­ries about how some of his songs were in­tro­duced as well how Nora, Joyce’s wife, in­spired Joyce in his life and works. He told the Global Times that Joyce him­self had a beau­ti­ful, heart-break­ing and un­for­get­table voice.

Moon in my heart

O’Grady also has a keen in­ter­est in Chi­nese cul­ture, es­pe­cially Chi­nese songs. Af­ter per­form­ing some ex­cerpts from his one-man show “Ode to James Joyce: Por­trait of a Tenor,” he also sang the fa­mous Chi­nese song “The moon rep­re­sent­ing my heart” (Yueliang Daib­iao Wo De Xin) in Chi­nese.

O’Grady told the Global Times that he loves the idea that peo­ple from dif­fer­ent parts of the world are all look­ing up at the same moon. He thinks the anal­ogy “the moon rep­re­sent­ing my heart” is a good ex­pres­sion for friend­ship and re­la­tion­ships. More­over, some of Joyce’s works in­clude im­ages of the moon.

Liu Shiyu, a Chi­nese stu­dent ma­jor­ing in English trans­la­tion at Bei­jing For­eign Stud­ies Univer­sity, read an ex­cerpt of Episode 1 of Ulysses to­gether with her teachers and class­mates at the event. This was her first time cel­e­brat­ing Blooms­day.

Liu told Global Times that her teacher has been leading them to work on the trans­la­tion of Joyce’s works for al­most one year. “The ac­tiv­ity pro­vides with us a chance to get close to the life and work of Joyce in a more re­lax­ing way,” she said, adding that it made the ob­scure work more vivid and eas­ier to un­der­stand.

Pho­tos: Chen Shasha/GT

Main: Per­form­ers at the event Clock­wise from left: Therese Healy, Con­sul Gen­eral of Ire­land in Shanghai, de­liv­er­ing a speech; Guests at the event; Noel O’Grady per­forms at the event. Win­ners of the Blooms­day fash­ion prize

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