The Dubliners Review; After the Race By James Joyce

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We had a good story last time about Eveline and the conflicting nature of pursuing something you love or fulfilling your duty to someone or something you care deeply about but also resent. That kind of internal conflict is interesting and can lead to a lot of good stories. Like say for instance a short story about a man whose conflicted because at one point he has the choice of going to war and serving his country which he is very adamant about but on the other hand he feels the need to stay home and look after his sickly mother. He could make a small contribution in the sake of war but he could make a giant contribution to his mother’s life but he’s conflicted because he doesn’t know what to do. That could be an interesting short story. Or, y’know, maybe write about something other than a bunch of posh cunts getting wasted and playing cards?

…Yeah this story never stood a chance.

So the story revolves around some posh cunt called Jimmy and his continental friends; a French cunt called Ségouin, his cousin a Canadian Cunt called André and a Hungarian pianist called Villona who is “unfortunately, very poor”. I know I’m quite harsh towards these characters but being the good little lefty that I am, I really fucking hate the rich. Like I hate Richard Branson, I hate Rupert Murdock, I hate Zuckerberg- the only rich people that I like are fictional.

So unless they witnessed their parents get shot before their eyes or got stranded on a desert island I don’t really have a good opinion on them. I mean don’t get me wrong I’m not a Communist like our lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I understand that there will always be rich and poor people. Ideally the poor people aren’t starving to death or living in a council house that could collapse at any second and the rich people don’t own a monopoly or are best friends with the Prime minister. So I’m more in favor of some kind of middle ground where we have healthy representative liberal democracy that isn’t afraid to raise taxes on the rich to pay for shit so that poor people don’t die needlessly. Needlessly. As if there’s any needful reason to die.

Personally I subscribe to what Forrest Gump said; “There’s only so much money a man really needs and the rest is just for showing off” then again I don’t have any fucking money now so my opinion might change if I ever do become moderately wealthy. I imagine I will have dehumanized the majority of humanity and will contribute to ways of thought that are detrimental to normal people’s self interest. Tax breaks are class lads, you don’t need health care and while we’re at it why don’t we just privatize the roads and airwaves.

I get the sense that Joyce doesn’t really care for the rich either considering the story opens up with; “and through this channel of poverty and inaction the Continent sped its wealth and industry” and the story is one of the few in which fans state that they literally don’t give a fuck about it. I had the fortune to meet a guy who actually liked the Dubliners once and he was on about how great the Two Gallants were and Eveline and The Dead and how relatable the stories were to the Irish. It was nice, I mean he’s dead fucking wrong but it was nice none the less.

No, Joyce wasn’t really that rich so he was essentially diving head first into a world he didn’t really understand. Despite his excessive exclamation points and his eccentric drawl Oscar Wilde understood the rich and the posh because he was rich and he was posh. I have a love/hate relationship with Oscar Wilde but that’s a review for another day.

So our lad Jimmy is the son of a successful butcher and is a young socialite who’s studied at Cambridge.  He’s by all means a waster, he doesn’t care for his studies and he lives just to fuck about with his friends. Like Oliver Queen before he got stranded on a desert island except that Island will never come for Jimmy, he’s doomed to spend the rest of his life as a posh cunt. It only gets worse, we learn that his father raised him to be a Fenian but due to his wealth and his social connections to England he’s kind of a sellout.

So does that make him like some kind of House Fenian? Is such a thing even possible? I mean I’ve met Catholics who’ve questioned whether or not a United Ireland should be done due to the Economy but that’s really just cowardice. Fuck the economy. Do you think England gave a fuck about the Economy when they decided to leave the EU? No, they wanted their “Country back” and we actually have an argument for getting our country back. I mean even from a Unionist perspective it doesn’t make sense, we already are self governing due to Stormont and in the case of Abortion we can dictate our own laws despite what the UK says so what’s the point of being in the UK outside of the fact that half the province are genuinely and foolishly afraid that they’ll be burnt out of their houses? Fuck all. That’s what. There’s a reason there’s an economic crisis every twenty odd years; it’s because the people who control the influx of money are Psychopaths and they like fucking about. So fuck the economy. But enough of my Nationalistic Propaganda, lets go back to reviewing some more pessimistic Nationalistic Propaganda.

So Jimmy is hanging about with his friends after the race, they drive about having some craic before they eventually stop off in the town to get changed and have dinner with an Englishman called Routh who’s a friend of Ségouin from Cambridge. Re-reading this I imagined Routh looking like a younger Jacob Rees-Mogg, a man whose been gaining quite a lot of media attention lately, even having the support of Nigel Farage so he’s already got the UKIP vote. I think they’re grooming him up to be leader of the Tories, possibly even Prime Minister some day if he doesn’t mind ditching his six kids.

Despite his blatant homophobia I actually find him quite charming. Then again I initially found David “Pig-Fucker” Cameron to be quite charming so I haven’t really developed an immunity to the allure of a Psychopath. Well, maybe not psychopath. I don’t think they were born this way. I think they’ve been systematically molested and brought up in a culture of greed and snobbery, so they’re more like Sociopaths really. The difference of course being Psychopaths are born, Sociopaths are made.

Our man Mogg actually is quite popular with the Tories. I mean I get it if you’re a bigoted cunt that the man does seem quite appealing. But I don’t understand how any working class or even middle class person could vote for such a posh cunt. I don’t know, maybe it’s because I’m Irish but I can’t vote for a man that posh. Why can’t these posh cunts be as physically repulsive as Ted Cruz? That would solve so many problems.

So Jimmy has dinner with his continental friends and the Englishman. They talk about a lot of stuff. Cars, pianos, art and eventually dwell upon Politics where a row breaks up between our man Jimmy and Routh on the topic of Anglo-Irish relations. Of course the French cunt Ségouin breaks it up before it gets too feisty and they finish up the meal in good spirits. They walk about the town, tipsy. André meets an American he knows called Farley and the group of lads spend the rest of the night in his yacht where they dance and play cards, in which Jimmy loses badly before the story reaches an end at the break of dawn.

As you can tell by my rambling about the Tories and the Rich and Forrest Gump there really isn’t a lot to talk about here. Like I said this is one of the few Joyce stories that literally no one gives a fuck about. This is no one’s favourite story, it’s like Joyce himself- it’s dull as fuck.

Nothing really happens, there’s no pursuit of adventure or of change. There’s no real characters to develop. It’s just the day in the life of another posh cunt, and unlike Oscar Wilde, Joyce doesn’t know what he’s fucking talking about. Very little dialogue, no real depth, no real imagery and there’s no real apparent hidden message behind it.

If I were to analyze it I could come up with maybe two conclusions. The story itself shows how wealth diminishes life. Take the example of Jimmy, he’s a wealthy young man whose been given great opportunities but he squanders his fathers money in pursuit of his life as a Socialite. Doing so he’s become less of a person and more of a compromised figure dedicated solely to popularity and money, like a politician. Only Jimmy doesn’t have any power, his politics have been compromised because of his wealth and his connections to England. He could debate on Ireland’s behalf, but he’d never really do anything. He’s like those alleged Nationalists who don’t want a United Ireland because they’re worried about the economy; he’s a coward. You can even see that in the book; “Jimmy, under generous influences, felt the buried zeal of his father wake to life within him; he aroused the torpid Routh at last” the fact that his fathers political influence was something that he resented enough to bury shows that he’s not exactly an upstanding Irishman. Joyce actually explores this political resentment in more depth in The Dead, a much better story.

It’s worth noting that the characters themselves aren’t really likable or have much charisma to them. In fact the story has very little dialogue and there’s no real genuine discussion shown,at certain points there’s even miscommunication. The only really likable character is Villona, and that’s mainly because he’s poor and seems to be an actual friend. The rest can just be considered associates. Suggesting that because of his wealth Jimmy has surrounded himself with fake people and sycophants who if he ever lost his fortune would scatter in a heartbeat.

So Joyce examines the world of the rich and perceives it to be a realm lacking in responsibility where the spoilt squander their families hard earned fortune in their whimsical and careless pursuit of excitement. Of course, Joyce being a Socialist I imagine he’s never had much empathy towards the rich. A lack of empathy that I share. I mean a little part of me wishes that Hurricane Irma could have skinned Richard Branson alive in his little beach resort, but alas there is no God and if there is he’s a vicious little cunt that despises men like me. So there shall be no divine irony.

Of course with Joyce there’s always some kind of political interpretation. Jimmy of course represents Ireland, Ségouin France, André being a Canadian represents the Common Wealth, Villona obviously represents Hungary or perhaps all of the less influential European nations, Routh represents Britain and the American known as Farley who is a short fat man represents, well, America.

The story can be seen as how futile it is for Ireland to gain respect as an independent republic on the world stage. The rest of the nations just tolerate him but he has no real influence. When he makes a fuss with the British the Frenchman calms him down and changes the topic. At the start the Irish support the French cars in the race for no other reason than they’re not British. The story ends in the American’s yacht, the yacht may represent a new world era that America will usher in. During the card game the Hungarian isn’t playing because he’s on the piano, he has no money so he has no stake in the game. The Irishman loses badly to the British and the French. The British man comes out on top, leaving The Irishman to question himself before daybreak makes them scatter.

Of course one of the reasons Jimmy lost the card game was because he was drunk and tired. Joyce may have seen Ireland having a drinking problem as a crucial inhibitor in their pursuit of independence, which I say is unlikely as I don’t really know if Ireland has a drinking problem (that’s a discussion for another day) or if Joyce, being an alcoholic himself, is just projecting. My bet is on the latter.

Joyce is rather a pessimistic nationalist.  In his works it seems the British always come out on top and in his day he may have been justified in thinking so. Then again he is a dull fuck, considering he’s an alcoholic with Schizophrenia and a few bad eyes you’d think he’d have something interesting to say. I mean, the reason Edgar Allan Poe is so famous is because once he died his arch nemesis started talking shit about him saying how much of a drunken loon he was and people were like “wow…I wanna see the shit he wrote down” and he became an American icon.

It pays to have an arch nemesis. Or I dunno Joyce, couldn’t you write about something that’s, like, actually good? It’s cheaper than having your very own Moriarty. I wonder if I’ll ever have my own Moriarty? Then again I’m such a bitter cunt it might be better asking if I’ll ever have my own Sherlock. I think I’d make a wonderful nemesis someday. What do you think?

 

 

 

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