Self-proclaimed bibliophile, culture nut and nerdfighter. English lit. and linguistics geek. Future career in publishing.
One evening he found himself sitting beside two ladies in the Rotunda. The house, thinly peopled and silent, gave distressing prophecy of failure. The lady who sat next him looked around at the deserted house once or twice and then said:
-- What a pity there is such a poor house to-night! It's so hard on people to have to sing to empty benches.
- Excerpt from "A Painful Case"
Note: The review below was taken directly from my Goodreads account.
Read "Eveline", "The Boarding House" and "The Dead" for class.
Dubliners is a collection of fifteen short stories set in Dublin during the early 20th century and focuses on the Irish middle class.
Joyce is a ridiculously good writer. His prose is simplistic, but evokes a truer picture than hyperbole or extended metaphor could ever hope to. You feel like you're living the life of the Irish middle class. The details he puts in each story makes it feel like you're watching short films and, in the case of "The Dead", a full-length feature. While some people like less detail so that their minds can fill in the rest, I don't think Joyce's writing detracts from that experience; the prose is nowhere near as image heavy as a movie, but there is enough detail to really make the scenes and textures come to life.
The short stories follow a similar pattern in that the idea you had about the ending of each story is subverted. After a few stories you'd think you'd be able to guess the endings that Joyce is drawn to, but you'd be surprised again. Each story's ending is hard to guess and it never follows what you think will happen as you read or what you think will happen after you tune into Joyce's subversion tactics. They are just an overall delight to read. They are a great insight into the importance of religion, nationalism and everyday situations that the 20th-century Irish had to go through. Some of stories may seem eventless, but there is always some sort of change happening, physical or mental.
I think my favourite stories are "The Dead", "Grace", "A Painful Case" and "A Little Cloud", but I really could just pick all of them.