James Joyce – Ulysses 100

James Augustine Aloysius Joyce (2 February 1882-13 January 1941) was an Irish novelist, famous for his modernist avant-garde style. He is the author of Dubliners (1914), A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916), Ulysses (1922) and Finnegans Wake (1939).




2-3 JUNE 2022

The School of Humanities and Liberal Arts at the Georgian American University, in conjunction with Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University, Georgia, and the James Joyce Association of Georgia, hosted a two-day interdisciplinary conference dedicated to the 100th anniversary of James Joyce’s publication of Ulysses in 1922.

T.S. Eliot called Ulysses ‘the most important expression which the present age has found; … a book to which we are all indebted, and from which none of us can escape.’ Indeed, after a century it is a book which is still read, discussed, translated, researched, and which influences not only writers, but painters, musicians, philosophers, photographers, film directors.

Presentation of Paper: Molly Bloom Again in Music – Martina Nicolls and Tamar Zhghenti.


The last episode in James Joyce’s 1922 novel Ulysses is referred to as “Penelope” or “Molly Bloom’s soliloquy” in which Molly, lying next to her husband Leopold, muses in stream of consciousness about songs, love, and physical desire. Molly, an opera singer, thinks about her upcoming concerts, her recent lover, and the time when she first fell in love with Leopold. The soliloquy is long and largely unpunctuated, containing about 22,000 words in eight sentences. It is the world’s most famous female soliloquy over the past 100 years. It has inspired song writers, male and female, of all genres and nationalities, to include in their works, Molly’s direct words and passages, or referenced evocations of similar sentiments. Why is this episode so creatively, so musically powerful?
This paper shows a time sequence, from 1925 to 2021, of musical artists so inspired to adopt and adapt Molly’s words into song lyrics. This paper commences with James Joyce himself, who, in 1925 and revised in 1934, wrote alternative lyrics to the traditional Irish drinking song “Molly Brannigan” calling it “Molly Bloomagain” and concludes with the avant-garde German composer Bernd Zimmermann’s hour-long opera “Requiem for a Young Poet,” composed in 1969 and recorded in 2021 in Germany by the SWR Symphonie Orchestra, that includes lines from Molly’s soliloquy. Molly’s intimate words sing out across genres, from rock to ballads, psychedelic syncopation to eclectic pop, on a range of musical instruments in a mixture of compositions. This paper considers how the replicated refrains, poetic prose, and lyrical adaptions of Molly’s words have been articulated over a century to show how well-known songwriters express their own nostalgic unrestrained feelings of love and desire.