Assistant Arts Editor
Sean Bernard, associate professor of creative writing, showcased his in-progress novel that interprets and alludes to Irish writer James Joyce’s “Ulysses,” at his faculty lecture Monday in the President’s Dining Room.
“Ulysses” is a 1922 modernist novel by Joyce and ranked No. 1 on Modern Library’s 100 Best English-Language Novels of the 20th Century.
“This project, admittedly, arose out of a somewhat ridiculous impulse,” Bernard said.
“I’m usually too deeply engaged with whatever project I’m working on at the time to plan out the next.”
“The project is challenging and fun, especially since I’m taking on one of the greatest books of the 20th century,” he said.
During the lecture, Bernard read excerpts from his in-progress novel.
Using humor in his writing, the audience of roughly 30 faculty and students showed their appreciation with laughter.
“I liked the excerpts that he read to get a sense of what he wrote and his voice,” said Margo Cash, an art business major from Claremont Graduate University.
“I also liked the ordering and how he explained the tenses.”
In the fall and winter of 2012, Bernard read, annotated and took notes on three of Joyce’s major publications, “Dubliners,” “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” and “Ulysses” along with a lesser known work, “Giacomo Joyce.”
Bernard arranged key passages and references into a story of his own.
His novel currently has three sections that orbit around “Ulysses” and Joyce.
The first section is told in second person where it focuses on a not particularly accomplished Joyce scholar, according to Bernard. It is a hopeful story about a sad, but thoughtful, man.
The second section is the longest, and is told in third person.
It revolves around an awkward college student on a school trip to Dublin who begins to see characters from “Ulysses.”
The third section is a fake autobiography.
The sections are an allusion to Joyce’s attempt to have readers view his works as autobiographies. It focuses on the narrator’s relationship with the young man he is tutoring, and it is heavily voice-driven, mirroring the first section.
Since “Ulysses” is set in the span of one day, June 16, 1904, in Dublin, Bernard visited the city last June to help broaden his perspective on the novel’s setting through real life experiences.
“The task of convincingly and meaningfully setting fiction in a real place is much easier when you’ve been in the place,” Bernard said.
He spent about 10 days in Dublin, and attended various Bloomsday events.
Bloomsday started officially on June 16, 1954 when several Irish authors decided to commemorate the 50th anniversary of “Ulysses” through a celebration with drinking, reading and other events.
The day is now celebrated around the world by Joyce’s fans.
Bernard participated in dress-up contests, visited museums, toured various historic shops and visited pubs.
There were also reading tours that featured actual sites from the novel.
Bernard is currently in the process of completing the final third of the first section of his novel.
He is still deciding whether to add a fourth section and an introduction to the beginning of the novel.
After editing, he will send the completed work to an agency as the final process of this project.
“My favorite part is just being able to listen to someone that writes novels,” sophomore biology major Ashley Valiente said. “It’s interesting seeing how he’s an author that can create different views in novels.”
Cody Luk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.