Symposium as Derry prepares to host ‘Molly Bloom’ leg of trans-European Ulysses homage

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Derry has been confirmed as the final destination in a trans-European homage to James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’ with the maiden city given the honour of featuring Molly Bloom’s famous monologue in June 2024.

The Ulysses European Odyssey (UEO) is an 18 city arts project criss-crossing Europe from September 2022 until June 2024.

Cities span from Istanbul in the east to Derry in the west.

The project is guided by and pays homage to Joyce’s famous masterpiece ‘Ulysses’ with each city seeking to represent and reinterpret the theme of one of the 18 chapters in the novel.

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James Joyce's bust in St. Stephen Green.James Joyce's bust in St. Stephen Green.
James Joyce's bust in St. Stephen Green.

Derry will be the final destination in June 2024, depicting Chapter 18, Molly Bloom’s monologue, hence the theme: ‘the future: the female vision’.

In outlining why Derry was chosen for the Molly Bloom episode UEO notes: “In Derry the greeting on the street for Hello from one person to another is the word ‘Yes.’

"The last seven words of Ulysses end with repeating this affirmative (‘…yes I said yes I will Yes.’) and so to end in Derry is an affirmative gesture, whilst we also bring Derry’s natural hinterland of north Donegal into the YES Festival.

"The final chapter of Ulysses and the Odyssey are focused on female characters, Penelope and Molly. Derry is a city historically centred around a female workforce, it was once the centre of shirt manufacture; at the time of the publication of Ulysses, around 40 shirt factories operated in “Derry and the vast majority of the workforce (and the breadwinners in most homes) were women.

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The Ulysses European Odyssey project is guided by and pays homage to James Joyce’s famous novel 'Ulysses' with each city seeking to represent and reinterpret the theme of one of the 18 chapters in the novel through an arts project based in their own city.The Ulysses European Odyssey project is guided by and pays homage to James Joyce’s famous novel 'Ulysses' with each city seeking to represent and reinterpret the theme of one of the 18 chapters in the novel through an arts project based in their own city.
The Ulysses European Odyssey project is guided by and pays homage to James Joyce’s famous novel 'Ulysses' with each city seeking to represent and reinterpret the theme of one of the 18 chapters in the novel through an arts project based in their own city.

"A surprise closing location for a surprise closing episode. Joyce writes of ‘Yes’ as ‘the end of all resistance’. Joyce wrote this episode in mid-1921, the time of the Anglo-Irish Treaty.”

As part of the overall project Derry must host a symposium giving citizens a chance to discuss the theme.

These discussions will seek to establish key questions connected to the theme with these questions being published in a new book entitled 'Charter 309' which will collate the questions from the other participant cities.

The approach is to invite people from all walks of life to attend and contribute. The organisers say they don't want a purely artistic or academic audience but are seeking as wide a cross-section of the community as possible, nor is the conversation limited to female participants, but open to all.

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The award-winning author, Sue Divin will be the facilitator for the events which will take place on Friday, October 27 and participants are invited to attend one of the two sessions at 1pm-3pm and 6pm-8pm in St. Columb's Park House.

UEO has been inspired by Ulysses (published in 1922), which in turn was inspired by Homer’s Odyssey.

Together the three are connected as projects that respond to seismic moments in human history: the Trojan War (c.1200 BC), The Great War and Spanish Flu (1914-20) and our own time of pandemic and climate crisis.

The project involves 18 cities in 16 countries – Athens, Trieste, Vilnius, Budapest, Marseille, Paris, Berlin, Lugo, Copenhagen, Istanbul, Cluj, Zurich, Leeuwarden, Eleusis, Oulu, Lisbon, Dublin and Derry/Donegal.

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The original model for UEO was seeded in Enniskillen through Arts Over Border’s work interweaving aspects of the works of Samuel Beckett, Oscar Wilde and Brian Friel with the physical and metaphorical landscape of their childhood connections with place.

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