Leopold Bloom is the fictional protagonist and hero of James Joyce's Ulysses. His peregrinations and encounters in Dublin on 16 June 1904 mirror, on a more mundane and intimate scale, those of Ulysses/Odysseus in The Odyssey.
Leopold Bloom's character was inspired by James Joyce's close relationship with Aron Ettore Schmitz (Italo Svevo), author of Zeno's Conscience.
Bloom is introduced to the reader as a man of appetites:
Mr Leopold Bloom ate with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls. He liked thick giblet soup, nutty gizzards, a stuffed roast heart, liverslices fried with crustcrumbs, fried hencods' roes. Most of all he liked grilled mutton kidneys which gave to his palate a fine tang of faintly scented urine.
Born in 1866, Bloom is the only son of Rudolf Virág (a Hungarian Jew from Szombathely who emigrated to Ireland, converted from Judaism to Protestantism, changed his name to Rudolph Bloom and later committed suicide), and of Ellen Higgins, an Irish Protestant. He's uncircumcised. They lived in Clanbrassil Street, Portobello. Bloom converted to Catholicism in order to marry Marion (Molly) Tweedy on 8 October 1888. The couple have one daughter, Millicent (Milly), born in 1889; their son Rudolph (Rudy), born in December 1893, died after eleven days. The family live at 7 Eccles Street in Dublin.
Episodes (chapters) in Ulysses relate a series of encounters and incidents in Bloom's contemporary odyssey through Dublin in the course of the single day of 16 June 1904 (although episodes 1 to 3, 9 and to a lesser extent 7, are primarily concerned with Stephen Dedalus, who in the plan of the story is the counterpart of Telemachus). Joyce aficionados celebrate 16 June as 'Bloomsday'.
As the day unfolds, Bloom's thoughts turn to the affair between Molly and her manager, Hugh 'Blazes' Boylan (obliquely, through, for instance, telltale ear worms) and, prompted by the funeral of his friend Paddy Dignam, the death of his child, Rudy. The absence of a son may be what leads him to take a shine to Stephen, for whom he goes out of his way in the book's latter episodes, rescuing him from a brothel, walking him back to his own house and even offering him a place there to study and work. The reader becomes familiar with Bloom's tolerant, humanistic outlook, his penchant for voyeurism and his (purely epistolary) infidelity. Bloom detests violence, and his relative indifference to Irish nationalism leads to disputes with some of his peers (most notably 'the Citizen' in the Cyclops chapter). Although Bloom has never been a practicing Jew, converted to Roman Catholicism to marry Molly, and has in fact received Christian baptism on three different occasions, he is of Jewish heritage and is constantly ridiculed for being a Jew.
... Writer-director Mel Brooks used the name "Leo Bloom" for the mousy accountant in his film/musical The Producers ... Former Pink Floyd bandmate Roger Waters references Leopold Bloom in his song "Flickering Flame" as sitting with Molly Malone ... Orwell's primary character George Bowling in "Coming Up For Air" was modelled on Leopold Bloom ...
... In Dublin, Davis was well known for masquerading as Leopold Bloom, the main character of Ulysses, and leading Bloomsday parades ... Davis dressed as Leopold Bloom in an Edwardian suit and bowler hat in order to publicise and celebrate the event ... After this, Davis appeared as Leopold Bloom at other Bloomsdays and at events in other countries ...
Famous quotes containing the word bloom:
“The spring is here, young and beautiful as ever, and absolutely shocking in its display of reckless maternity; but the Judas tree will bloom for you on the Bosphorus if you get there in time. No one ever loved the dog-wood and Judas tree as I have done, and it is my one crown of life to be sure that I am going to take them with me to heaven to enjoy real happiness with the Virgin and them.”
—Henry Brooks Adams (18381918)