Ulysses in 80 Days: Can you - will you - read Ireland’s greatest book this summer?

Posted on: 24 May 2022

Ulysses in 80 Days is a book club launched by a group of determined readers who plan to read Ulysses in 80 days in summer 2022, and who are inviting anyone interested to join them.

Ever felt James Joyce’s masterpiece book, Ulysses, was just not for you?

Have you been intimidated by the novel’s 700-odd pages?

Or put off by the author’s reputation for linguistic acrobatics?

If so, this initiative is for you: Ulysses in 80 Days is a book club launched by a group of determined readers who plan to read Ulysses in 80 days in summer 2022, and who are inviting anyone interested to join them. 

Accessible by email and Twitter, Ulysses in 80 Days aims to democratise Joyce’s wonderful epic novel, based on the events of a single day in Dublin, and celebrate 100 years since the book’s first publication in Paris, by Sylvia Beach’s Shakespeare and Company, in 1922.

 The brainchild of Trinity College Dublin immunologist Prof Cliona O’Farrelly, and backed by others on the steering group including dance historian Deirdre Mulrooney (UCD), Loic Wright (UCD), Dr Carl Vogel of Trinity's School of Computer Science and PJ Murphy of Sweny’s Pharmacy (where the hero of Ulysses Leopold Bloom famously purchased a bar of lemon soap), this drive breaks Ulysses into 80 manageable chunks of 6-8 pages a day, from June 1 until August 19th 2022.

Colleagues from Trinity who will be supporting the steering group in the initiative include Provost Dr Linda Doyle; Vice-President for Global Engagement Dr Emma Stokes; immunologist Prof Luke O’Neill; Prof Nicholas Grene, Prof Philip Coleman and Dr Samuel Slote from the School of English; Prof of Physiology Mark Cunningham; psychologist Prof Ian Robertson and Librarian and College Archivist Helen Shenton. 

Prof. Cliona O’Farrelly said: “We believe Ulysses is for everyone, not just academics. We’ll be inviting people from around the world to join us on our reading journey by email, Facebook and Twitter. We aim to complete the whole book in 80 days and so will tackle approximately 6-8 pages a day - surely something anyone might accomplish during the bright summer months.”

The initiative will work as follows: at 7am on each day, a message will be posted on the dedicated website [https://ulysses80.ie/], and on Twitter as well as emailed to members who have signed up on the website, giving the first words and the last words of the section to be read that day, together with the line numbers (from the Gutenberg Press edition).  The relevant page numbers of several printed editions will also be posted on our website. Members can be listeners as well as, or instead of, readers if a podcast version of Ulysses is preferred. TikTok fans are encouraged to take part as well.

Book club members will be invited to contribute their thoughts, comments and insights - and maybe even dance moves - about the day’s section using the hashtag #Ulyssesin80.  

By Bloomsday (which marks the date in 1904 when the novel is set) on June 16th, 2022, readers will have reached the middle of its 8th “episode”, Lestrygonians, and will be ‘in’ Davy Byrne’s Pub in time for Leopold Bloom’s famous lunch of a Gorgonzola sandwich with a glass of Burgundy.  On that day, everyone in the #Ulyssesin80 Book Club across the globe will be invited to raise a glass together to celebrate reaching the quarter way mark, as they head in towards the more challenging episodes of the book.  

The last episode, [number 18, ‘Penelope’], Molly Bloom’s eight-sentence soliloquy, will be read over ten days in August. Day 80, the last day of the journey when we can all say “Yes Yes Yes” (echoing Molly) with great relief and celebration, falls on August 19. 

Media Contact:

Fiona Tyrrell | Media Relations | tyrrellf@tcd.ie | +353 1 896 3551