Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist


Why did I never read Dubliners before? I guess it's because Joyce is one of those modernist big beasts that everyone who's serious about literature is supposed to have read and I'm stubborn.

It's the same reason why I didn't properly get round to Virginia Woolf until last year.

I like it how Joyce tries to cram as much of life as he possibly can into each small sketch. Dubliners is a transitional work. On the one hand it feels very late Victorian- obviously indebted to people like Chekhov and kin to people like Wells- and on the other hand you can see how so much of 20th century fiction grows out of it. Joyce uses lots of long words- just like a Victorian, but he also uses lots of very short sentences, just like Hemingway. Story doesn't interest him much. What interests him is the world as he can see, smell, touch and think it. 

Apparently Joyce's realism was very shocking at the time. It's odd how namby-pamby Edwardian taste was. Not just about sex but about anything too grossly physical. The other day I came across a review by Hilaire Belloc in which he objected to a writer referring to the "heavy smell of blood" in some story of pirate adventure. For Belloc, not a bad writer himself but a thoroughly conventional one, there were all sorts of things that were completely outside the pale of art. 

I've read four stories and we've already tripped over two dead priests. I reckon that's Dublin for yez!
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