Archive for the ‘Irish Literature’ Category

I thought I’ll dip into James Joyce’sDubliners‘. I read one story and then another, and before I knew, I was immersed into the book!

Dubliners‘ has fifteen stories. It depicts the Dublin of a hundred years back, through the stories of its inhabitants. Most of the stories are 10 pages or less. One of them, ‘The Dead’ is the longest one, at 35 pages. I think that it is Joyce’s masterpiece in the short form.

My favourite stories in the book were ‘Eveline‘, ‘A Little Cloud‘, ‘Clay‘, ‘A Painful Case‘, and, of course, ‘The Dead‘.

Eveline‘ is about a woman who keeps sacrificing her life and serving her family, and she falls in love. She is torn between her sense of duty towards her family and her desire to pursue personal happiness. It is a beautiful, heartbreaking story. I wonder whether Colm Tóibin’s ‘Brooklyn’ was inspired by this.

A Little Cloud‘ is about a man who meets an old friend who has become successful. This man wonders whether he can change his own life and get away and realize his dreams.

Clay‘ is about a woman who takes off from work and goes to meet her former employers who treat her like family. It is a beautiful story.

A Painful Case‘ is about a shy, introverted man who meets a woman and they fall in love. It is an unusual situation for him, and it makes his life complicated. It is a beautiful, heartbreaking story.

The Dead‘ is about a family celebration during festival time. It is a beautiful, complex story. For a short story, it is quite epic in scope, and it almost feels like a novel. It has some of my favourite passages from the book. This story made me remember Thomas Dylan’sA Child’s Christmas in Wales‘.

I loved ‘Dubliners‘. I’m glad I read it. It made me remember one of my favourite books, ‘Up in the Old Hotel‘ by Joseph Mitchell, which is about the New York of a bygone era, seen through the stories of normal people and some eccentric characters. ‘Dubliners’ is probably the first and last book that James Joyce wrote in the traditional style for a normal reader like me. Then he decided that he was done with it, and went and wrote experimental and difficult books like ‘Ulysses‘ and ‘Finnegans Wake‘ which are beyond the comprehension of a reader like me. Wish he had alternated between the two kinds of books, so that there are more accessible books for readers like me. Unfortunately, this is all there is. But I’m glad that he atleast wrote this one accessible book. I’m thankful for that.

Have you read ‘Dubliners‘? What do you think about it?

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Seamus Heaney waxing lyrically in purple prose in his introduction to Michael McLaverty’s Collected Short Stories 😊 Wish I could write like this 😊

“But realism is finally an unsatisfactory word when it is applied to a body of work as poetic as these stories. There is, of course, a regional basis to McLaverty’s world and a note-taker’s reliability to his observation, yet the region is contemplated with a gaze more loving and more lingering than any fieldworker or folklorist could ever manage. Those streets and shores and fields have been weathered in his affections and recollected in tranquility until the contours of each landscape have become a prospect of the mind…in his best work, the elegiac is bodied forth in perfectly pondered images and rhythms, the pathetic element qualified by something astute…His voice was modestly pitched, he never sought the limelight, yet for all that, his place in our literature is secure.”

Left : Michael McLaverty; Right : Seamus Heaney

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