Arena “James Joyce’s Ulysses” 7 September 2022: Wednesday on BBC Two

Arena "James Joyce’s Ulysses" 7 September 2022: Wednesday on BBC Two 11

One hundred years after its publication, this reveals the tawdry, shocking, poetic, uplifting and gloriously kaleidoscopic humanity of James Joyce’s masterpiece, Ulysses.

Banned in the USA for obscenity in 1920, it was finally printed in Paris in 1922 by an American woman who had never published a book before. The film celebrates the crucial role of women, including Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap, a lesbian couple who risked being sent to jail for printing obscene material in America; Sylvia Beach, the American in Paris, who published the first edition from her bookshop Shakespeare and Co; Harriet Shaw Weaver, the English heiress who gave Joyce over one million pounds; and Nora Barnacle, Joyce’s wife, muse, and the model for his character Molly Bloom.

Ulysses is an encyclopaedia of Irish history, barroom banter, low comedy, newsroom talk, advertising copy and song. Its central character is Leopold Bloom, who wanders around the city observing its everyday life.

Set during the course of single day in Dublin in 1904, Ulysses was actually written in Trieste, Zurich and Paris during a time of huge historical upheaval by a penniless teacher of English who would never return to his native Ireland. This film takes us into the heart of the three cities that were home to Joyce and his family during the creation of the book.

The film celebrates Joyce’s daringly modernist style, spattered with language so scurrilous that it remains shocking to this day, which changed the novel, and writing, forever.

With contributions from: Salman Rushdie, Colm Tóibín, Anne Enright, Howard Jacobson, Eimear McBride, Paul Muldoon, John McCourt, Nuala O’Connor, Vivienne Igoe and many others.

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