It is not surprising that a centenary as important as the Ulises put the focus of publishers’ and readers’ attention on the rest of the Irish author’s work, especially given its unitary nature. We are in the year of Ulises but we could well say that we are in the year of james joyceof everything that this lucid and insomniac writer has written or done, so it is not surprising the number of suggestions and methods proposed lately in the media, by all kinds of specialists and outsidersto address the reading of the Ulises; when perhaps the best method is to read Joyce himself first, for example Dubliners.
It is almost commonplace to comment that the Ulises emerged as just another story Dubliners that it slipped out of James Joyce’s hands; that is to say, that he acquired a life of his own. It should therefore be borne in mind that the Dublin of the Ulises arises from Dublinersor better, to avoid any type of susceptibility, it will be difficult to understand the Dublin of the Ulises without having previously read Dubliners; in fact, many of the characters Dubliners pepper the streets and the pages of the Ulises. This does not mean that both works cannot be read indistinctly, but it seems logical that Dublinersin this priority of readings, is considered a step prior to Ulises.
“the tales of Dubliners they form a unitary whole in which the whole adds up to more than the parts, as almost always happens in James Joyce“
Perhaps due to the foregoing, the Reino de Cordelia publishing house has considered it opportune to publish, with the help of the Ministry of Culture and Sports, an exquisite edition of Dubliners with a hard cover and good recycled paper, reminiscent of the editions of more adventurous times for the publishing world and perhaps for literature. The book is illustrated by Javier García Iglesias, who has been able to successfully capture, rather illuminate with the sober precision of his stroke, the complex Joycean universe. Readers are also in this edition with a new translation of Dublinerswith another attempt to transfer to the scope of our language the singular dictum lexicon and complex syntax that characterizes the writing of James Joyce. Susana Carral is responsible for this difficult task —to meet the demands and high expectations of the Joyceans— with audacious praise and success, but demonstrating once again, if her translation is compared with those made by Guillermo Cabrera Infante and Eduardo Chamorro, that the translator is a tradition.
the tales of Dubliners they form a unitary whole in which the whole adds up to more than the parts, as almost always happens in James Joyce, and where his stories are rewritten connotatively or acquire new resonances and meanings through the others. Joyce, to make the “moral” portrait of the Dublin society of his time, does not use the sociological strata as a plot plot, reflecting his social classes as the main development of his stories, but uses, what he will later masterfully develop in the Ulises, the chronological perspective; that is to say, the scrutinizing gaze on Dublin from the different ages of life, which allows him to establish with dark vitality the decadent human mosaic of his city. This makes the 15 stories that make up Dubliners are structured, following Joyce, with the following thematic-rhythmic scale 3-4-4-3, where the first three correspond to infancy, with childhood, the next four with youth, the other four with the world of adults, and the remaining three with social activity. The last story “The Dead”, considered by much of Anglo-Saxon critics as the best story in English-language literature, works as a synthesis and final coda of all the others.
the keys of Dubliners James Joyce gives them to us in the disturbing first story he wrote to start this unitary ensemble, “The Sisters”:
“Every night, looking out the window, I repeated the word ‘paralysis’ to myself. It had always sounded strange to me, like the word “gnomon” in Euclid and “simony” in the catechism.”
“Paralysis runs through a good part of the stories, but so does simony. When one flees gnomon, in this case understood as a norm of power“
In this fragment three fundamental words appear in the ideology of the Irish writer, one is «paralysis» as a social symptom of the moral illness that devastated Dublin. Joyce comes to define his city as a syphilitic well, a stigma that he will also lead to his exile and that will forever condition his life and his writing; in addition to fatally transmitting it to Nora Bernacle and her daughter Lucía. The Irish writer reveals many of these issues to us through Father Flynn, a priest who dies of paralysis, probably, although the narrator never reveals it, caused by syphilis. In this first story it can also be seen how he applies the technique of gnomon —and this is the second relevant word to address Dubliners— in its different meanings. One of them, perhaps the most effective from the literary point of view, is their textual use as pieces of life —slices of life—that not only must be interpreted and reordered, but also serve to verify, both in their silences and in their assertions, other realities. And finally, within this significant Joycean triad, simony as transgression and rupture with the sacred. In “The Sisters” it is disturbingly symbolized in the goblet broken by Father Flynn, but also in the coin that shines in the hand of one of the thugs in the story “The Gallants”, as a symbol of commerce with sacred love; or in the drunken character of «Duplicados», who pays his frustrations in the helpless innocence of his son.
Paralysis runs through a good part of the stories, but so does simony. When one flees from the gnomon, in this case understood as a norm of power, its established rules and its corrosive paralysis, as happens in “An Encounter”, the two fugitive students do not find the desired freedom but rather a pederast in full swing. open space as a simoniacal symbol of the influence of the city, whose degradation permeates even its last redoubts. gnomon which also reflects its corrosive paralyzing power in Eveline’s last decision —central character of the story of the same name—, whose ties to the past make it impossible for her to undertake any emancipatory action, to get on board with the man who could free her:
“Frank passed the barrier and called her to come after him. Someone yelled at him to keep going, but he kept calling her name. She looked at him, pale and passive, like a helpless animal. In Eveline’s eyes there was no trace of love, no farewell or recognition.
“Dubliners is a set of memorable stories. One of those necessary reads“
The same paralysis that eats away at Little Chandler in “A Light Cloud” as he enviously perceived how he was wasting his literary talent in a routine job and in a no less conventional family life, in the face of the overwhelming success of his friend Ignatius Gallaher, turned into a “brilliant figure of the London journalistic world»: «Little Chandler felt the embarrassment redden his cheeks and he turned away from the light».
James Joyce still amazes his readers in Dubliners for what he says without saying it, for what he shows from his concealment. He is the true minotaur of the Dublin maze of his pages. In his stories it seems that nothing happens or that very little happens — «Clay», «A painful case», «The day of the ivy»… »-, and on the other hand, in them, the most important thing happens, reaching the last shadows His stories are an epiphany that lead us to our most secret questions, those that some nights take away our sleep, or before the unexpected presences that return from the past through the arpeggios of a song.. Perhaps, as Jorge Luis Borges wrote in «There Are More Things», surely remembering «The dead» by James Joyce, because «man forgets that he is a dead person who converses with dead people».
Dubliners is a set of memorable stories. One of those necessary readings —even more so than in the days of James Joyce— to exorcise the personal and social paralysis of our simoniacal reality.
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Dubliners in James Joyce’s Daedalus – Ricardo Labra – Zenda
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