A traditional and tropical Bloomsday

The actors Jonathan Mellor, Muriel Prenas and Raquel Vicente, characterized as Leopold Bloom, Stephen Dedalus and Molly Bloom. / ML

On the centenary of the publication of Joyce's 'Ulysses', Madrid recreates for the first time the route of its characters that Dublin celebrates every June 16

Michael Lorenci

On June 16, 1904, Leopold Bloom took to the streets and toured his city, Dublin. His journey of almost 24 hours gives rise to a legendary novel, 'Ulysses', published in 1922 and with which James Joyce changed the history of literature. Since 1954, every June 16 Bloomsday celebrates and recreates the route of Bloom, Stephen Dedalus and his acquaintances. This year, on the centenary of the book's publication, Madrid hosted Leopold Bloom Day for the first time.

It was traditional and tropical. Mutatis mutandis', Leopold Bloom could be turned into a Leopoldo Flores (bloom means to flourish) who, instead of facing a misty and humid Dublin sunrise, faces a torrid and clear Madrid morning, with 35 degrees in the shade. The Sandycove beach and the Martello Tower, where the modern urban odyssey began, became the Cuesta de Moyano, a bookish sanctuary where the Hispanic Bloomsday began, which came to endorse the mayor of Dublin, Allison Gilliland.

The Mayor of Dublin, Allison Gilliland, on Cuesta de Moyano, Madrid's bookish sanctuary. /

CR

As enthusiastic about Joyce as she is about Cervantes, Gilliland, who was an English teacher in Granada, celebrated the twinning of Cervantine Madrid and Joycean Dublin. "Hopefully Bloomsday 2122 will be celebrated here," she wished before the Irish ambassador, Fank Smyth, and the deputy mayor of Madrid, Begoña Villacís.

Kidneys

After a breakfast that included the pig kidneys that gave Bloom strength, some enthusiastic readers dressed in Edwardian fashion began the tour endorsed by the writer Eduardo Lago, author of 'We are all Leopold Bloom' (Galaxia Gutenberg), one of the the best guides to navigate through the juggling literary juggling that Joyce practices in his 'Ulysses'. A great connoisseur of Joyce's work, he celebrated "the invisible thread that unites Spain with Ireland in 'Ulysses'". Lago is the creator of the ineffable Order of the Finnegans to which recalcitrant Joyceans such as Enrique Vila-Matas and Antonio Soler belong.

The actors Muriel Pernas, Jonathan Mellor and Raquel Vicente, characterized as Leopold Bloom, Stephen Dedalus, and Molly Bloom, toured the center of Madrid. The route departed from Moyano towards the Prado Museum, to pay homage to Velázquez. He continued to the National Library, a mirror of the Dublin National Library, where the passage from chapter 9 of 'Ulysses', 'Scylla and Charybdis' was read. From there to the James Joyce pub, between Puerta de Alcalá and Cibeles, where they tasted the Burgundy wine and the gorgonzola cheese sandwiches that Bloom had for lunch at the Davy Byrnes pub.

Under an inclement sun, the delegation arrived at the convent of Las Trinitarias and its tombstone in memory of Miguel de Cervantes to read the passage from the Glasnevin cemetery of 'Ulysses'. The visit continued to the Barrio de las Letras, in front of the century-old Cervantes León pharmacy, the equivalent of the Sweny's pharmacy where Bloom buys lemon soap for his wife, Molly. The day closed with the tribute organized by the Bloomsday Society at the Madrid Athenaeum, which featured Magüi Mira, the actress who moved the audience and critics alike by bringing to the theater Molly Bloon's monologue that closes 'Ulysses'.

The first Spanish Bloomsday was organized by Tourism of Ireland and the Soy de la Cuesta Association, promoted by the booksellers of Cuesta de Moyano, the permanent book fair in Madrid. For such a happy occasion, a commemorative brochure was published with unpublished texts by Eduardo Lago, Ian Gibson, Espido Freire, Ernesto Pérez Zúñiga, Karina Sainz Borgo and Jorge Tkatch.

The route ended at the Gran Hotel Inglés, where writers such as Virginia Woolf, Valle-Inclán or Galdós stopped. A traditional transcript of the Hotel Ormond in Dublin, on the banks of the River Lyffey, the scene in which Bloom sings a song in the chapter on the sirens was recreated there.

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