James Joyce's Ulysses turns 90

Ulysses was first published by Sylvia Beach in Paris on 2 Feb 1922. Chronicling the passage of Mr Leopold Bloom through Dublin on 16 June 1904 the controversial and experimental modern epic, which alludes throughout to Homer's Odyssey, was ranked by the Modern Library as first on its list of 100 best English language novels of the 20th century.

Cover of the first edition of Ulysses, published by Sylvia Beach’s Shakespeare and Company in Paris, France in 1922.

The State Library holds a number of publications by and about James Joyce and extensive holdings on Irish culture in general. The John Oxley Library collection features resources that document the contribution of the Irish to life in Queensland including these images. A seminar titled Irish in Queensland: their cultural legacy will be held at the State Library on 14 March at 12.30 in Auditorium 1.

For lovers of Joyce's great work, filled as it is with such exquisite lines such as...“the heaventree of stars hung with humid night blue fruit" we wish it a happy birthday, especially in this National Year of Reading, and recall Saul Bellow's assertion that “Everyone is writing Ulysses all day long, within himself, and when we speak we speak sentences out of an inward context – only the tip of the iceberg appearing above the surface.”

Simon Farley, Arts Portfolio, State Library of Queensland.

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