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Commemorative Postal Issue | Diplomatic Relations Series: Brazil – Ireland 100 Years of Ulysses

About the Stamp

The artwork had the inspiration start on the locations where happened the episodes in the James Joyce's work, using the Dublin's city map as background. Highlighted, "Ulysses 100 Anos" (Ulysses 100 Years), comes with a typografic arrangement, along the "Yes" (a remarkable citation in the book) and "James Joyce" underneath the letters in same position. In order to reinforce the Irish identity, the green color was extensively utilized with some orange spots. The technique used was vectorial illustration.

100 years of Ulysses by James Joyce

It is thanks to the Irish writer James Joyce (1882-1941) that we celebrate, in 2022, one hundred years of readings and discussions about Ulysses, one of the most impactful works of the 20th century. Published on February 2nd, 1922, the author’s fortieth birthday, the novel marked literary modernism and established itself as one of the most relevant English-language prose compositions of all time.

Despite deciding, at the age of twenty-two, to leave Ireland, James Joyce wrote incessantly about his native country and, in particular, about Dublin. In Ulysses, we witness a day — June 16th, 1904 — in which the characters go through different points of the Irish capital, and Joyce mapped them using real locations of the city. These displacements are remembered in the annual celebrations of Bloomsday, an event named after the protagonist Leopold Bloom. The celebration of Joyce’s novel takes place not only in Dublin, but in several cities in Brazil and the world. We can therefore say that Ulysses continues to mobilize, literally and figuratively, readers and readings in countless countries.

Ulysses has its structure inspired by episodes from Homer’s Odyssey, a work from which countless parallels were derived, more variegated than direct. The title of the novel is, after all, the Latin version of the name of the Homeric character, Odysseus, which already points out the tortuous path of cultural tradition that Joyce travels. Ulysses subverts the Homeric source by having as the protagonist, in the place of an epic hero, a citizen simultaneously ordinary and outsider, even victim of prejudice and cursing, but also more pacifist than warlike, more supportive than combative. Joyce’s odyssey is not centered on glory, but embraces humanity with its beauties, oddities and imperfections. It shows that literature and life can be filled with improbable humor, as well as nostalgia and melancholy, with no clear boundaries between these aspects. As Joyce’s biographer Richard Ellmann says, Ulysses has, in many senses, love at its center, and what is divine about Bloom is his own humanity. None of this detracts from the critical and even radical nature of the novel — rather, it is what constitutes it.

Although Ulysses was released a hundred years ago, its episodes began to circulate in literary magazines from 1918 onwards. With abundant intertextual relations and progressively more inventive language, his fame was consolidated even before completion. There was criticism and even censorship in the English-speaking world (except in Ireland), with resistance to Joyce’s experimentalism and his proposal to write an all-too-human novel from the epic.

In the ensemble of his prose, Joyce composed a particularly cohesive work. Ulysses succeeds A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, from 1916, whose protagonist is Stephen Dedalus, one of the main characters in the 1922 novel. The collection of short stories Dubliners, from 1914, also includes characters who reappear in Ulysses. Moreover, there is a clear literary crescendo. At a conference to promote Joyce’s novel in Paris in 1921, the French writer Valéry Larbaud mentioned how much each of the previous works contributed to the composition of Ulysses or foreshadowed some of its qualities. Joyce’s poems in Chamber Music (1907) contained lyricism; Dubliners, the specific atmosphere of the Irish capital; A Portrait, in turn, the images, analogies and symbols that would integrate the later novel. The combination of these characteristics and the innovations of Ulysses resulted in a text with “the complexity of a mosaic” (kaleidoscopic, certainly).

The map that accompanies the commemorative stamps indicates the most relevant places among those mentioned in the episodes of Ulysses (whose names come from the Odyssey). An exhaustive list would be long: in Leopold Bloom’s walk, many places are mentioned, for example, in Os Lestrígones/Lestrigões (as the eighth episode is called in the translations of Bernardina Pinheiro and Caetano Galindo, respectively) (“Lestrygonians”, in English), but the candy store appears at the beginning and the main point is Davy Byrne’s pub. There are also multiple routes in the episode As Rochas Ondulantes/Rochedos Errantes (“The Wandering Rocks”, in English), of which the region where we find the protagonist, Bloom, buying books at Merchant’s Arch stands out.

The address of the fourth episode, in turn, is taken up in the last three — the Blooms reside at 7 Eccles Street. It is at this address that the novel ends. The great narrative arc that Joyce’s Ulysses shares with Homer’s Odyssey is therefore the theme of the return home. In the novel, however, the last words are from the woman, Molly Bloom. Her monologue, permeated by recollections, ends in repeated affirmative answers: “and yes I said yes I will Yes”. These famous final words make up the art of the stamp.

In 2022, we not only celebrate the publication of Ulysses, which occurred a hundred years ago. We celebrate, above all, the fact that we continue to read and reread the work together. It is cause for celebration to realize how many dialogues around these words — with their various solitary monologues — remain alive. Our shared privilege is to celebrate a century of readings from Ulysses while we weave the beginning of another hundred years.

Luísa Leite S. de Freitas

PhD in Literary Theory from the University of Brasília (UnB)

2022 marks the 100th anniversary of the publication of the novel Ulysses by the Irish writer James Joyce. Published on 2 February 1922, the book follows the events of one single day in Ireland’s capital city of Dublin and what happens to the characters Stephen Dedalus, Leopold Bloom, and his wife Molly Bloom. The novel was constructed as a modern parallel to Homer’s Odyssey, with the three central characters intended to be modern counterparts of Telemachus, Odysseus and Penelope.

Ulysses captures the atmosphere and the structures of Dublin in such astonishing and meticulous detail that Joyce once said that if the city of Dublin were to be destroyed, Ulysses could be used to rebuild it brick by brick. The novel has survived censorship and controversy, including claims of blasphemy, to become an undisputed modern classic. T. S. Eliot described Ulysses as the “most important expression which the present age has found; it is a book to which we are all indebted, and from which none of us can escape.”

While Ulysses is heralded as one of the defining texts of modernist literature, and is famous for its use of the ‘stream-of-consciousness’ technique and shifting literary styles, this complexity has also given Ulysses a reputation for being difficult to read. There are those who suggest that the book should be read aloud, that you should skip certain chapters, and many find it difficult to read the 783 page book in one sitting. However, those who persist and allow themselves to be immersed in the novel are rewarded by its irreverent humour, its careful study of the everyday lives of its characters, and the many riddles and puzzles hidden in its pages that have occupied scholars over the last century. There is something in Ulysses for everyone: the common man who bets on horses, the lonely women looking for love, the lost who don’t know how to cry. This story is as relevant today as it was one hundred years ago.

Ulysses is now celebrated around the world as Bloomsday on 16 June, and is believed to be the only international feast-day dedicated to a work of art. In Ireland on Bloomsday people dress up in Edwardian fashion, there are dramatic readings and re-enactments of the text, people eat Joycean dishes such as liver and pork kidneys, and walk through Dublin following the steps of the novel.

Bloomsday celebrations have also spread throughout Brazil, with the first event taking place in São Paolo in 1967. Today, events take place annually in over 14 cities in Brazil, including celebrations in Brasília, São Paolo, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador and Florianopolis.

Brazil has also been home to many eminent Joycean scholars, and thus far three Portuguese translations of Ulysses have been published: the first by former diplomat Antônio Houaiss in 1966, the second by Bernardina da Silveira Pinheiro in 2005, and the most recent by Caetano Galindo in 2012. This year, a new ‘multi-voice’ translation will be published to celebrate the Ulysses centenary, with translations of the 18 chapters by 18 Brazilian academics.

The centenary of the publication of Ulysses also coincides with the birth of the independent Irish state, which took place following the symbolic transfer of power from the British Government to Ireland on 16 January 1922, two weeks before the publication of Ulysses. This year also sees Brazil celebrating the bicentenary of its independence. For both Ireland and Brazil, the legacies of our shared colonial histories have shaped our journeys as independent states, and we continue to examine the ideas of statehood and national identity that Joyce explored in Ulysses.

There are many historical links between Ireland and Brazil that are relevant in this year of independence commemorations, such as the marriage between Irishwoman Narcisa Emília O’Leary and José Bonafácio de Andrada, one of the founding fathers of Brazilian independence; the visit of Dom Pedro II to Ireland in 1877; the work of Irishman Roger Casement who campaigned for the rights of indigenous communities in the Amazon region; and the dedication of decades of Irish missionaries who continue to serve and support communities across Brazil. Today, the friendship that exists between Ireland and Brazil, though physically divided by the Atlantic Ocean, is growing ever closer due to strong people-to-people links, and Ireland is now proud to be home to a community of over 70,000 Brazilian people. Ireland is also proud to have become an Associate Observer of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries in 2021, and to support the development of stronger linguistic, academic and cultural exchanges with Portuguese-speaking countries such as Brazil.

Inspired by the legacy of Bloomsday celebrations in Brazil, we are undertaking a number of cultural projects in Brazil to mark the occasion of the centenary of the publication of Ulysses. This includes a project undertaken in partnership with 18 universities across the country, which will result in the commissioning of a mural interpreting one chapter of the novel in each one of 18 institution. The purpose is to explore how Brazilian youth interpret the novel 100 years later, and to support visual interpretations of Ulysses with a Brazilian identity.

The publication of this commemorative stamp to mark the centenary of the publication of Ulysses signifies another milestone in the relationship between Ireland and Brazil, and we are extremely pleased that the stamp has been designed by a Brazilian artist, and represents a Brazilian visual interpretation of the novel. We are enormously grateful to Correios for partnering with the Embassy in this exciting initiative, and for their enthusiasm and support in bringing the project to life.

We hope that this stamp will inspire a new generation of Brazilians to consider diving into the exciting and unique world of Ulysses, and that they will say, as Molly Bloom proclaimed in the last words of the novel: yes I said yes I will yes

Sr. Seán Hoy

Irish Ambassador to Brazil

Technical Details

Stamp issue N. 6

Art: Daniel Effi – Correios

Print system: offset

Paper: gummed chalky paper

Sheet with 8 stamps

Facial value: R$ 2.60

Issue: 64,000 stamps

Design area: 38 x 38mm

Stamp dimensions: 38 x 38mm

Perforation: 11.5 x 11.5

Date of issue: June 16th, 2022

Place of issue: Brasília/DF

Printing: Brazilian Mint

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