Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
“For myself, I always write about Dublin, because if I can get to the heart of Dublin I can get to the heart of all the cities of the world. In the particular is contained the universal.”
Dubliners is fantastic literary inspiration, it forced me to take better notice of my surroundings, of my own city, which has an untapped endless source of heartbreak, joy, turmoil and everything else to do with the human predicament. It also almost forced me to park myself anywhere and write something worthwhile, but that’s another story, I hope, someday.
What do I think of Joyce? The man’s a genius, undoubtedly. He does what he set out to do masterfully. He lays Dublin bare. His writing is powerful, unassuming and devoid of judgment. It can often be emotionally draining and occasionally soul-crushing to read his stories if you manage to get into them, which can be a demanding task considering the colloquial language and the quotidian, sparse, yet very representative plot lines. It is awe-inspiring to watch him lay out the intricacies of character interplay mainly through authentic dialogue.
The protagonists age as the book progresses, so while the first story is from the point of view of a seven year old child, the final story is The Dead, recognizably about death and old age, his most famous short-story. Through these characters belonging to different backgrounds and age groups, he paints a realistic, stark picture of Dublin. There are also stories which are first-person narratives, where he gets under the skin of the characters inhumanly well, ‘A Painful Case’ being an apt example and my favourite story.
Everything said, a necessary addition to any book-lover’s collection.