Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Thoughts: Dubliners by James Joyce
Before I go any further with this review, let me get this off my chest. Dubliners was depressing as hell. Almost all of the characters aim for something that will lift them up from the monotony of their daily lives or set them free from commitments they surprisingly found themselves buried in, and guess what? Almost all of them fail. In Araby, a boy tries his best to make it to a night market to buy something special for a girl he likes. The ending kind of broke my heart.
I kowtow to Joyce, because he never condescended toward his readers. Dubliners might be the easiest thing-to-read a.k.a book by Joyce I’ve ever encountered, but the fact that it was written by James Joyce means that it’s still pretty freakin’ hard to get through. There was a certain short story in there about politicians (In hospitals? I have no idea what I’m talking about), and I didn’t understand a single thing. What I did understand, though, made me feel proud. I’ve gotten so used to modern authors who dumb down their books that this reading experience was pretty exciting—like the FIFA World Cup for literary nerds. Minus the hot guys.
In the entire collection, aside from Araby and The Dead, the story that really made a mark on me was Eveline. The main character, Eveline, defines a woman who is stuck in the confines of her roles as a sister and a daughter. Life is hard, but Frank, Eveline’s boyfriend, serves as the light at the end of the tunnel. Frank wants Eveline to run away with him, and she must make a crucial decision. Escape to the unknown or face the known miseries of poverty and an alcoholic father? The resolution of this short story made me put the book down, and stare up at the ceiling for a while, asking myself what I would I have done if I were in her shoes.
I actually thought I would hate this book, but I kind of liked it. Yes, the hopelessness of the characters’ lives was depressing, but it made me think. The short stories in Dubliners made me put the book down, so I could take a deep breath and think about the characters and what James Joyce is trying to tell me. Me, the reader. Me, the person. I have to say that was quite an experience.