Shanghai honors James Joyce with only offline Bloomsday worldwide

By Chen Shasha Source:Global Times Published: 2020/6/14 12:11:29

People dressed in vintage costumes take selfies at the Bloomsday celebration event held on Saturday in Shanghai. Photo: Chen Xia/GT

Shanghai has stood out as the only place this year to hold official celebrations offline for Bloomsday, a celebration of the life of Irish writer James Joyce, thanks to its efforts in fighting COVID-19, Therese Healy, Consul General of Ireland in Shanghai told Global Times at the event held on the rooftop terrace of the historical House of Roosevelt on the Bund on Saturday.

"I'm not surprised, because often Shanghai is first to do things and it is brave," she said, adding, "We've taken every precaution, of course, but we do also have to be brave and to venture out into the light again."

Joyce led a life which was constantly disrupted by immensely challenging circumstances. But he still put a foot forward and created something that was exceptional and brought comfort to people, Healy said, believing that this inspires people to reflect about the life and world after COVID-19.

COVID-19 is a reminder to people that nothing is totally predicable in life, Eoin O'Learya, Ireland's ambassador to China, told Global Times at the event, citing Joyce's constantly disrupted life.

But the good thing is, the world has reacted to COVID-19 quickly, O'Learya noted. "China had the first experience of it and all the rest of the world is working with China and learning indeed for many in the matters in China to deal with it."

O'Learya noted that China-Ireland relations had seen an upward trajectory and the two countries have been helping each other tremendously in the COVID-19 fight.

He mentioned that trade between Ireland and China has been resumed, and the embassy plans to reopen its visa offices from June 22.

 "We're very hopeful that once the virus is subdued, we can resume that upward trajectory in Ireland and China relations," he said.

At the Shanghai event on Saturday, the rooftop terrace of the building was transformed into the Dublin of 1904. Dressed in vintage costumes and iconic Joyce-style hats, Irish and Chinese fans of James Joyce wandered across scenes from Ulysses, one of the author's best known works.

The fixed traditional part of the annual celebration - reading their favorite parts from Ulysses - was also a hit at the event.

The celebrations in other cities this year, including Dublin, will feature various online events, including Joyce fans' readings of Ulysses and Irish authors telling personal stories about their interpretation of this masterpiece, according to Healy.


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