The Dubliners review; The Sisters By James Joyce

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The Dubliners is a collection of fifteen short stories written by James Joyce based in Dublin in the early twentieth century. As there isn’t a real singular plot I’m going to review each and every short story individually, interrogating it for merit or dare I say for some semblance of entertainment.

Now our man James Joyce is regarded as one of the most influential writers of the 20th century, inspiring the likes of Ernest Hemingway (who I’m quite fond of) and he was a very clever man seeing as he could speak up to seventeen languages; and he is a good writer in the fact that he can describe things accurately that a person may understand them. He’s got a few good quotes too. But there is one problem with Joyce which a thorough reading of the Dubliners confirms for me; he’s a dull fuck.

There’s no craic going on. Nothing. The story essentially revolves around a teenage boy with misanthropic attitudes to his surroundings walking about, finding out his friend (The local priest) is dead and proceeding to…not give a fuck. Like I’ll give credit the tale starts out with your man (yeah, he doesn’t even have a fucking name) walking past the priest’s house checking for candles cause the priest has been paralyzed by a series of strokes he’s suffered. The boy is ultimately waiting for the third candle to essentially clarify “Three strokes, you’re out! Off to hell with ye, turns out you can’t eat pork and you have to wake up at six am and pray five times a day on a glorified fucking yoga mat” so he could get some like closure or something along those lines.

The boys exhausted emotional state off screen could indicate why he’s a such a mopey, unsympathetic cunt for the five pages he exists for. I have met a man once whose mother died of a terrible disease (basically its like AIDES in reverse, instead of shutting down the immune system it builds it up so far that it causes more harm than good) and when she died he took it quite well; cause he had been preparing for it for years on end. So theoretically our man could be on his emotional whits ends…of course I don’t know that for sure. Since Joyce didn’t give me the fucking courtesy to write this shit down.

But yeah, our boy makes it home and his Aunt (carers are Aunt and Uncle btw) are sitting about talking with this randomer who’s either slow or has a stutter cause he speaks in ellipsis…like….I don’t know….how I could describe this to you….It’s totally not frustrating….then again maybe that was the point….ah to fuck with you Joyce, you were afraid of Thunder and Lighting for god’s sake.

His guardians tell him the priest is dead and he’s like “…k” and our randomer here goes on some rant about how a young boy ought to be hanging around people his own age and not some elderly priest; which is good advice (one that our misanthropic cunt despises him for). The whole Priest-boy relationship has took quite the tumble in literature in the past few decades. I mean the only one that stands out to me that isn’t creepy as fuck is the Daredevil one but Matt Murdock is a ninja so I imagine you’d have a hard time wrestling that boyo to to the ground (then again he’s blind so it depends what you get for persuasion)

The church’s influence itself leaks it’s ugly head in the plot and many of the other stories in the Dubliners whether it be about social interaction or cultural significance. Now those who know me know that I’ve had my quarrels with the Catholic Church, many of which lead to stories that I’m told are funny, but I’ll save them for Oscar Wilde’s god awful Short stories and fairy tales. What the fuck is it with these people and exclamation points? They use them far too liberally for my liking, half the time the sentence isn’t even that exclamatory.

Like you wouldn’t like it f I kept on going around saying “What an Exclamatory statement!” or “Whoa, what an Exclamatory remark!” No, you wouldn’t tolerate that. You’d say; “Des, quit acting the lad and get back to giving the poor dead schizophrenic a bollocking” OK, rant over.

At this stage you’re probably wondering why a story about a misanthropic, poorly developed cunt is called “The Sisters” and the answer is simple; the priest had sisters that took care of him. Yeah, not exactly as pinnacle as Saving Private Ryan but at least he named it. Yeah the sisters are forgettable. There’s two of them, old catholic women. The type that you used to have to sit beside in mass and you tried to hold your breath because they fucking stank. I don’t know what the fuck they were wearing, some malodorous perfume to cover up the stench of death no doubt. Only one of them speaks as they make awkward chit chat/ exposition with the Aunt so we can find out the priest died relatively peacefully and had suffered from some kind of degenerative brain disorder.

Now a story about a priest suffering form a degenerative brain disorder such as Alzheimer’s would have made a much more interesting story than the lump of shite Joyce thought he’d open the book on. Of course if you were to analyze this story the main consistent motif is paralysis. The reason the boy can’t mourn is cause he’s emotionally paralyzed. The reason the Aunt and Sister can’t communicate effectively or even recognize the word death is that they’re paralyzed in a sense of grief. The reason the boy and the family don’t seem to get on well is cause they’re socially paralyzed, unable to connect or reach out to each other.

But that is analysis- I could analyze anything. The story only has merit if I add merit I’ve concocted all by myself to it. It’s ultimately a story about nothing; and there are tremendous stories about nothing out there. Catcher in the Rye is about a teenager walking around New York in Christmas doing fuck all. Hemingway’s last book was about a couple who go on holiday and that’s it- fuck all happens there. So the fault doesn’t lie in the fact that the story is about nothing, its about the fact that it’s a story about nothing and it’s fucking dull.

TL;DR: Poorly developed cunt is poorly developed, the sisters is dull, priest may have been a dodgy boy, life is dull and we should all take solace that everything will get much more durable when our brains corrode.

 

 

 

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