Saturday, September 13, 2008

Dubliners by James Joyce

In Dubliners, his collection of short stories, James Joyce captures Irish life, specifically the lives of Dubliners. Each story is a magnificent sketch of the people, setting, and situations; the entire collection presents a variety of such sketches. At the end of each sketch, I felt the despair that I believe Joyce intended to impart in each normal life situation. While each story captures different characters in a various stages of life, similar despair pervades each of their lives in related settings.

Joyce's ability to capture the world through his words greatly impressed me. Each story is incredibly realistic and amazingly readable. However, I was not impressed with the plots behind each story; Joyce seems to hint at the issues and sometimes I felt too much was left for me to guess at. But while I didn't love the stories themselves, I would highly recommend reading Joyce's stories solely for the beautiful writing and careful character development. Reading the stories in Dubliners is an example to me that plot doesn't necessarily make something I read "great"; good writing makes it great.

Until I picked up his volume of short-stories, I hadn't thought I'd ever read James Joyce. He's always intimidated me. To my surprise, I'd read one story, "Araby," which had been assigned reading in my ninth-grade English class. It remains my favorite of Joyce's stories because, just as at age 14, the main character's frustrations and "unrequited crush" resonated with me. If you choose one of Joyce's stories to read, I'd recommend "Araby." As I said, much in the underlying plot is left to the reader to untangle, and yet, the characters, setting, and emotions are perfectly captured.

Cross posted at Rebecca Reads.


RfP said...

You might also like his Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. It's semi-autobiographical, so it's a more specific slice of Irish life, but fascinating. I also enjoyed it as an audiobook--Donal Donnelly voices the characters and place names beautifully.

Paul Laverne said...

Araby is great, but "The Dead" takes the prize. There is a fun rewrite of "The Dead" by Irish writer Anne Pigone. It takes place in Colorado and all the characters have changed their sex. I think it's called "The Ugly" or the "Ugly and the Dead". I have seen it on the net.

moazzam sheikh said...

hi there,
enjoyed what you wrote. try to differentiate between opinion and review, which is to take a story or two and point out what you mean by this or that. For example, why the story is called Araby and something else. Look at writer's choice(s) and omissions.
- moazzam

Rebecca Reid said...

Mossam, I was not aware that there were writing guidelines for this group blog. My blog reviews are always a mix of opinion and review. I don't intend to change my way of writing about my reading; sorry you don't like it.