To Celebrate St Patrick’s Day

I can’t think of a better way to celebrate St Patrick’s Day than reading James Joyce’s Dubliners, and more precisely his novella The Dead. Thank you Moira at Clothes in Books for your suggestion. I must confess I’ve tried many times to read Ulysses and A Portrait of an Artists as a Young Man, without success. I always gave up after reading a few pages. But I believe now it will be different, after all Dubliners is a collection of 15 short stories, first published in 1914.

51JGWDaZYtL._SX309_BO1,204,203,200_ They form a naturalistic depiction of Irish middle class life in and around Dublin in the early years of the 20th century.The stories were written when Irish nationalism was at its peak, and a search for a national identity and purpose was raging; at a crossroads of history and culture, Ireland was jolted by various converging ideas and influences. They centre on Joyce’s idea of an epiphany: a moment where a character experiences self-understanding or illumination. Many of the characters in “Dubliners” later appear in minor roles in Joyce’s novel “Ulysses”. The initial stories in the collection are narrated by child protagonists, and as the stories continue, they deal with the lives and concerns of progressively older people. This is in line with Joyce’s tripartite division of the collection into childhood, adolescence and maturity. It is a penetrating analysis of the stagnation and paralysis of Dublin society. The stories incorporate epiphanies, by which Joyce meant a sudden consciousness of the soul of a thing. In these short stories (which also include his novella “The Dead”), Joyce, moving from childhood to adolescence to adulthood, examines small but significant moments in lives lived in Dublin (hence the title) around the turn of the century. Girls ponder leaving home; boys fail to impress beautiful girls; mothers meddle to the detriment of their reputations; and married couples fail to connect, among other things. (Source:

When I read that The Dead is probably one of the best short stories ever written, I couldn’t resist myself. Sláinte.

4 thoughts on “To Celebrate St Patrick’s Day”

  1. I love The Dead. The final passage is one of my favourite pieces of writing ever. There is a fabulous movie adaptation by John Huston that is well worth checking out.

  2. Thanks for the mention Jose Ignacio, and so glad you trust me! It truly is a great work of art, and I agree with Cathy above – final passage is a transcendant piece of writing, and the film is excellent too.

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