Customer Review

45 of 50 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rewarding for those willing to tackle it, December 26, 1999
This review is from: Dubliners (Paperback)
Having grown up in a small town much like Joyce's Dublin, this book has a special significance for me. I've seen so many people from my town graduating from high school without really understanding that there is an entire world outside the place they grew up and lacking the ambition to go explore it. I fear many of them will spend their lives "getting by" in a job they hate, raising children who will inevitably do the same thing. Joyce's "Dubliners" depicts this cycle with as much complexity and compassion as any author I've read.
In an age where the most publicized fiction tends to be simple-minded and genre-bound, it's refreshing to come across a writer with Joyce's complexity. "Dubliners" is so rich in its intellectual and symbolic atmosphere that many readers may be put off by the overall weight of the prose. The writing is so thick with metaphorical contexts that the literal content of the story occasionally becomes obscured, which can be frustrating for those not used to reading Joyce. Yet, while difficult, "Dubliners" is far from impossible to decipher, and although these stories function well as a whole, they are also more or less self-contained, which makes "Dubliners" easier to get through than Joyce's other works(it's a lot easier to take on a ten page short story than a 600+ page novel like "Ulysses" or "Finnegan's Wake"). For readers who are new to Joyce, this would be a good place to start.
A final note: since this book is old enough to be considered a "classic," there are a plethora of editions available from various publishers. I own the Vintage edition (ISBN: 0679739904). Not only is it a quality printing (not that cheap newspaper ink that rubs off on your fingers), it also contains about a hundred pages of criticism at the end that help shed light on Joyce's often illusive themes. Normally I shun forewards and afterwards (I like to think I've read enough to discover a story's theme on my own), but in the case of Joyce I found that a push in right direction can mean the difference between enjoyment and frustration.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 17, 2009 8:11:48 PM PDT
Earnan says:
Dublin was not a "small' town by any means. It was a city, albeit not a very big one by modern standards.

Posted on Apr 8, 2013 7:51:54 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 8, 2013 7:56:27 PM PDT
Rocky7 says:
One of these days I hope to figure Joyce and his admirers out- I've read reviews that say Dubliners is so straight-forward as to need no elaboration, and others that say it embodies the rich and rewarding 'complexities...etc.' I want to understand why I need to be 'converted' to appreciate genius? Why are these dense and dull tomes of Joyce so simultaneously worshiped and renounced? Is there any sort of definable Key to loving and comprehending Joyce's books? Is it truly worth the effort? I do enjoy long, weird, challenging books- I have never enjoyed reading Joyce, and have never been able to relate to those who do. Their advice often sounds like the old line about REAL conversion- 'Fake it till you Make it.' Why should I WANT to love Joyce, when it seems like a question of either you DO or DON'T? I DO want but I CAN'T. Very frustrating...
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