CBR III Week 14: Dubliners by James Joyce


A lot of the time when I am reading, I am like Clark Griswold in this scene in Vacation:


I hope you know German!

What I mean is that I don't take the time to digest whatever I'm reading, and to really try to understand what the author has done. This works well a lot of the time; after all, not everything deserves a long, hard look. Dubliners is the other kind of thing. What can you say about James Joyce, though, that somebody else hasn't already said? That his short stories are still startlingly good a million years later? That my favorite was "A Painful Case"? 

Ok. There's that.

Also, did you know that the common usage of the word epiphany is something James Joyce is [partially] responsible for? One of the things that unifies Dubliners is that each story contains a moment of epiphany, which Joyce thought of as a sudden manifestation of the essential nature of something, a realization of the truth of a situation. As he put it, "little errors and gestures – mere straws in the wind – by which people betrayed the very things they were most careful to conceal." I also love what he wrote about epiphanies in Stephen Hero: "Its soul, its whatness, leaps to us from the vestment of its appearance. The soul of the commonest object, the structure of which is so adjusted, seems to us radiant. The object achieves its epiphany." 


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