Dubliners // James Joyce // WONDERFUL

1914 // Short Stories

David Charles

FIRST LINE

There was no hope for him this time: it was the third stroke.

FROM THE BLURB

Before publishing his two great novels Ulysses and Finnegan’s Wake, Joyce wrote these fifteen stories of Dublin life in a frank and factual way, including nothing that is not pertinent to the plot or the very human characters. The incidents he relates are small in themselves but of universal interest, and while Joyce is impersonal, he is far from hostile to his Dubliners, whom he portrays with sympathy, understanding, and wit, and on whose doing he may imply, but never pronounce, a judgement.

FIVE EXCERPTS

#1: From Araby

Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger.

#2: From A Mother

His conversation, which was serious, took place at intervals in his great brown beard.

He was a suave, elderly man who balanced his imposing body, when at rest, upon a large silk umbrella. His magniloquent western name was the moral umbrella upon which he balanced the fine problem of his finances. He was widely respected.

She looked as if she had been resurrected from an old stage-wardrobe and the cheaper parts of the hall made fun of her high wailing notes.

#3: From The Dead

Moments of their secret life together burst like stars upon his memory. A heliotrope envelope was lying beside his breakfast-cup and he was caressing it with his hand. Birds were twittering in the ivy and the sunny web of the curtain was shimmering along the floor: he could not eat for happiness.

#4: From The Dead

A wave of yet more tender joy escaped from his heart and went coursing in warm flood along his arteries. Like the tender fire of stars moments of their life together, that no one knew of would ever know of, broke upon and illumined his memory. He longed to recall to her those moments, to make her forget the years of their dull existence together and remember only their moments of ecstasy. For the years, he felt, had not quenched his soul or hers. Their children, his writing, her household cares had not quenched all their souls' tender fire.

#5: From The Dead

He could have flung his arms about her hips and held her still, for his arms were trembling with desire to seize her and only the stress of his nails against the palms of his hands held the wild impulse of his body in check.

LAST LINE

His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.

END MATTER

Dubliners was recommended to me by Fern, and bought in a charity shop in Penarth for 99p. The edition I read is a Penguin Modern Classics printed in 1965, cover price 3/6.

214 pages, ~64,000 words
Read: 9 December to 19 December 2019 (11 days)