James Joyce - Dubliners

James Joyce - Dubliners
Rating - 7.9

Dubliners is Joyce's first paean to his native city, a quiet, gentle look at the peoples and places that make up the identify of Ireland. Through 15 short - some very short - stories, we are introduced to a wide variety of people, from sad schoolboys to priests to dried up old aunts to merry young women to carousing drunks, as they go about their lives.

The stories are presented more as brief snapshots of a man or woman's life, than as a complete story with a beginning, middle and end. Throughout, there is very little conflict, no bangs, no explosions, and no horrific or unexpected twists. Rather, we see a boy obsessively in love with a girl, or a man sad that a love he rejected years earlier has died, or a woman plotting with some friends to bring her husband back to the Catholic Church. Because of these mild plots, we are able to delve deep into each character, exploring what it means to be an Irish person at the starts of the twentieth century.

While not obviously connected, most of the stories have minor similarities in characters or references. Very often, a throwaway line concerning a previous or upcoming story will make its way on to the page, which serves to create a cohesive whole from the disconnected stories. And of course, the city of Dublin joins them all together into a great song.

The writing style is not typical Joyce. There are mild patches of density here and there, but for the most part everything is straight forward. Ulysses this is not. But instead of tackling the scope of that enormous work, Dubliners is more concerned with chronicling the daily activities of ordinary people. A Catholic background would make certain sections of the novel more enjoyable, but is by no means necessary.

What Joyce has done here is to create a certain mood for a city. While grim - or more accurately, poor - there is an undercurrent of joy, perhaps not for the events taking place, but for the people in the stories. We are presented with reality, unflinching, unapologetic reality. And it is beautiful.


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Wikipedia - Novel


Irish Authors