September’s here which means university – which means I’ve got books to read before I start my second year. Dubliners is one of the ten books that I need to read and so far, we’re not off to an amazing side. Sure, 3 stars doesn’t make it a terrible book, then it’s not great either.
This work of art reflects life in Ireland at the turn of the last century, and by rejecting euphemism, reveals to the Irish their unromantic reality. Each of the 15 stories offers glimpses into the lives of ordinary Dubliners, and collectively they paint a portrait of a nation.
Through Dubliners, Joyce writes about the reality of life, the happenings in the short stories aren’t full of grand gestures, but he creates scenes of social exchanges, of romance and of realising that you don’t know which way to turn in life. Which turn will mean your happy? Which turn will mean that you will end up miserable? Joyce conveys that life is unpredictable and a handful of the fifteen short stories explore this very well.
There is the running theme of middle-class, Catholic families but the short stories themselves don’t intertwine with each other even though it seems like that they do. It was actually a question that I bought up when talking to my Dad about this book. I asked him whether the stories were connected and he said no, but they really did seem like they did. In one story (I can’t remember which one it was), one of the characters says that Dublin is a small area and everyone knew everyone else’s secrets and whereabouts, which is probably why I thought that the stories were connected. And there is a moment in the very last story, ‘The Dead’, that a character from a previous story was mentioned ever so briefly in the former story. So there was at least one connection.
“She asked him why did he not write out his thoughts. For what, he asked her, with careful scorn. To compete with phrasemongers, incapable of thinking consecutively for sixty seconds? To submit himself to the criticisms of an obtuse middle class which entrusted its morality to policemen and its fine arts to impressarios?”
– James Joyce,
However, I found some of the stories very very slow and some of them just plain confused the heck out of me. I’m looking forward to going through each of the stories at university so that I can delve deeper into the lives that Joyce has created because I want to fully appreciate this piece of art that Joyce has given us. My least favourites were ‘An Encounter’, ‘Two Gallants’ and a couple of others. Among my most liked were ‘Counterparts’, ‘The Dead’, and ‘A Painful Case’.
I think I’m also going to purchase the audiobook because I have a gut feeling that it’s going to bring the world of Dublin alive.
Overall, James Joyce has created a good piece of work. Alas, I feel like the novel has been lost on me because I don’t really read classics but as aforementioned, I look forward to delving deeper into them at university. My first thoughts on it were that some stories were good and saw were confusing and didn’t make much sense to me at all, but I can see why this collection of stories has become a classic and also become a favourite among individuals.