January 27, 2007

James Joyce’s Dubliners is an easy introduction to Joyce, and was by far the most accessible of his works that I have read. I haven’t had the patience for Ulysses yet and have given up twice. I did enjoy his Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, but his short stories are an easier read.

I am not typically a big fan of short stories, preferring novels, but I am a fan of good characterizations, and Joyce manages to accomplish character development even in this short form. His also manages to create a portrait of the lives of Dubliners in the early 20th century. His self-proclaimed purpose was to show Dublin under four of its aspects, “childhood, adolescence, maturity, and public life. The stories are ordered in that general manner.

This is not a “feel-good” book. Most of the characters do not achieve the happiness that they are looking for, victims of a time, place and circumstances that preclude it. The concepts of the individual stories are not unusual, but based on my (limited) experience with short story collections, the way that all the stories form a single unified whole, is unusual.

I have to admit that I enjoyed Portrait of an Artist more than this collection of stories. I suspect I may be in the minority.


3 Responses to “Dubliners”

  1. Kate S. Says:

    I’ve read some stories from “The Dubliners” but I’ve never read the collection all the way through. Now that you’ve drawn my attention to the organizing principle, I’d really like to do so to get the benefit of the overview of life in Dublin that the book provides. I’m a big fan of the short story form, and particularly of linked story collections, so I really ought to give myself the opportunity to savour the links between the stories in “The Dubliners.”

  2. Ted Says:

    I definitely enjoyed Portrait more than Dubliners, and Ulysses best of all (of all books, in fact). Hopefully people who like Dubliners won’t be afraid to read Portrait, and people who like Portrait won’t be afraid to try Ulysses — it’s worth it!

  3. Brad Says:

    Ted – I have to admit that I haven’t given Ulysses a chance. It has been sitting on the bookshelf for at least 10 years, and I have looked at the first page numerous times. It just looks like so much work. Maybe I need to get an annotated edition and give it a chance. I think I would need some dedicated time to be able to stick with it. Do you recommend an annotated edition, or just try to get through it on one’s own?

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