Dubliners, by James Joyce. Book report #22 (2020)

Dubliners, by James Joyce. Pub 1914

I’ve had this slim old book for many years now, and since “a book you feel you ought to read” is one of this year’s categories and Joyce is one of those canonical authors one feels should be read, I decided to add it to the vacation library. I was not at all familiar with Joyce, but anticipated by reputation that the stories would be challenging to get through due to dense or complex language. These stories were not dense or complex, but still difficult to get through as they were…dull.

In reading more about the book, there is much said about the realist/naturalist style, that Joyce presents the stories without judgement but simply as rational/real and honest depictions of the lives of Dubliners. From my perspective, this means that the stories also have no point. There is nothing connecting the stories thematically, and while there’s a progression from start to end of age (with young people being central in the earlier ones, and old or elderly in the later ones), it is not clear how or why these stories belong together. They also don’t seem to be about anything on their own. 

I confess to skipping pages in the later stories, as they were dragging on and on, and it is not clear that I missed anything essential in those skipped pages. I’m glad that I read this book first on vacation, as everything else was better (albeit not immediately). I’m also glad to have moved Joyce from my list of must-read authors to never-read-agains.

Fate: charity shop, as soon as possible.

2 – a book published before 1939
6 – an author’s debut novel
11 – a book you feel you ought to read
12 – a book set somewhere you’ve never been
16 – a book with a place name in the title
17 – a book of short stories
19 – a book with a one-word title
24 – a book by an author whom you’ve never read

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