Posted by: Naomi | May 9, 2011

Dubliners

My most recent foray into literature has been the Irish Catholic world of Dubliners, written by James Joyce. The book is a collection of short stories, each focusing on a specific character or group. The first few stories are narrated by children, and as the work progresses, the characters get older, and the situations deal with mature subjects and tragedies, a nice parallel of the way that innocence and easiness is lost as one ages. Each story is very simply told, but the language that Joyce uses is sometimes so striking and beautiful, I would pause, and let my eyes linger over a sentence, almost like I was admiring a work of art, or a flower. The tales are only fleeting glimpses into the lives and circumstances of the characters. Just as they become truly engaging, the story ends, often abruptly, and we must move on. It reminds me of riding the bus with other people. You may look at them, or talk with them, and you can figure out things about their lives, and who they are, but then there is a stop, and you must part, and the time is over. The characters are not always portrayed well, one tale ends with an inebriated man going home and beating his child. However, from the glimpses we see, however fleeting, there is still beauty and loyalty and purpose, even in the darkest and most dreary of places and times. This book has definitely become one of my favorites, due to the depth and feeling with which the tales are told, and Joyce’s beautiful command of language.

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