The Dubliners Review; Two Gallants By James Joyce

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I’m not gonna lie I feel kind of weird posting this a day after another review. You see I try and post every two or three days to avoid annoying people with these updates. What people? There’s like two or three people I know who actually read this shite. Mainly because it’s too long but also because the topic is one that nobody gives a fuck about. Ideally I’d rather be talking about stuff that interests me like science or movies or comic books or politics or sociology and all that craic. So I actually might benefit from shitting out Joyce every other day…that and my email isn’t working so I can’t do my tech work and I’m bored.

The title of the sixth story in the Dubliners is supposed to be an ironic jest towards the two main characters who aren’t very gallant but are rather complete and utter scumbags. In fact despite their mode of income being very vague you can deduce that they’re some kind of petty criminals or gamblers, seeing as the main character Lenehen carries around horse racing magazines. The two men (Corley and Lenehen) are walking about in Dublin and talking complete shite; “That takes the solitary, unique, and, if I may so call it, recherché biscuit!” Yeah I had to google what recherché was as well. I’m not gonna lie that’s the shittiest bit of banter I’ve ever seen in the written word. Not only is it shit but it sounds fucking British. Then again they are from Dublin so what do you expect?

Perhaps Joyce wrote this god awful banter to highlight how uptight post-Parnell/Pre-Easter Rising Ireland was with the church and all. I mean apparently back in the day people considered Joyce to be a dirty bastard, which admittedly doesn’t age well because as time goes by degeneracy becomes more and more mainstream. It’s only a matter of time until the word “cunt” is so normalised it’s like saying “Good day, sir”. But the banter is so dry it’s…I don’t know. I mean include like a few swear words in there and a vulgar topic and it’d be more believable in my eyes. Then again perhaps I’m just projecting, I do swear too much. My Ma even told me to “Stop fucking swearing” so I believe I ought to buy a jar or some kind of ceramic pig.

There’s quite a lot I had to google re-reading this, most notably a moon with a double halo. For those of you unaware what a moon with a double halo looks like here it is:

The reason a halo appears around the moon is because the light from the moon refracts or reflects off of tiny ice crystals in cirrus clouds, just 20,000 feet above us. There’s a saying about this phenomena; “ring around the moon means rain soon” this is due to the fact that a halo around the moon is often a sign that rain or storms are on their way because the temperature has dropped, allowing it to rain. It’s inclusion in the story is just ironic imagery, showing that the two gallants aren’t saints.

So these two bastards are walking along having a bit of craic, talking complete and utter shite. Joyce suggests that people refer to our man Lenehen as a bit of a leach, since he has no steady job and depends on people to do things for him. An example being that at a pub he’ll go up to a group, have a chat and eventually convince them to include him in their next round. So he’s essentially convincing people to buy him drinks. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if he was the kind of cunt who stole drinks from people who’d abandoned them/ left them alone (For full disclosure, I was that cunt. I’ve wised up now though so yay, character development!)

Corley talks about this girl he’s seeing at the moment “a slavey” which is just a hardworking maidservant. It’s alluded to that Corley gets her to steal things for him from her employers such as cigars and now they’re moving onto something much bigger. He also remarks about how she might be keen for a ride, some people interpret the story to suggest that “oh, the maid is a hooker on the side” which I personally find absurd cause even in this sexually repressive society I still think that just because a woman fucks a guy outside of marriage doesn’t mean she’s a whore. Corley actually remarks about how he used to take women out on dates and walk about, take them to plays and concerts and buy them chocolate and only one of them ever put out. He says he saw her on a carriage one day with two men and Lenehen alluded that Corley turned her into a hooker, which is a stretch.

So the time comes when Corley has to meet up with this doll and Lenehen wants to see her, Corley is cautious about that because he claims; “Are you trying to get inside of me?” …Very poor choice of words. But no, essentially Corley is concerned Lenehen will steal her/ruin the theft. So they orchestrate one of the most awkward movements I’ve ever seen in the written language. So Corley says he’ll go down to talk to the girl and after a few minutes Lenehen will emerge from hiding, walking down the street, pass them from a reasonable distance, give a quick-but not too obvious- glance and then fuck off down the street. That’s…that’s a lot of work. I mean I get they’re swindlers and Corley doesn’t want to reveal he has a partner (Hell, he didn’t even tell the girl his real name) but that transaction was so awkward, so precise that it almost definitely happened in real life. It had to. No one could make that shit up.

So Lenehen, following Corley’s plan, fucks off down the street and now we enter the depressing, self reflective portion of the story. Lenehen passes by the same Harpist they walked by earlier, goes into a pub and orders some peas and ginger beer and thinks about how sad and empty his life is. It kind of reminded me of that advert from Lifeline where the guy is having the craic with his friends, playing poker and drinking but once they leave he’s all sad and he goes to the bathroom and takes off his face/mask to reveal he has a sad face, that he’s depressed.

I actually know quite a lot of depressed people. It’s odd cause when you intially meet them they seem fine but they’re actually dying inside. It’s something odd about this generation, we seem to both Ironically and Unironically want to kill ourselves. While eating his peas and drinking his beer Lenehen states that he ought to find a decent job, settle down with a woman (who isn’t too smart) and just live a normal, comfortable life. It actually reminded me of that interview on The Late Late show with Blindboy from the Rubberbandits.

His argument being that a lot of lads are depressed cause their entire self identity revolves around providing for a woman and in the modern world where you can’t get a job these lads think they have nothing to offer and therefore become depressed. Blindboy suggests that these lads need to embrace Feminism so that they can be readjusted to the modern world. Now if you’re like me you’d have initially laughed at that statement cause the first thing that pops to your mind when you think of feminism is those really shitty people with the weird hair that are always complaining about obscenely minuscule things that no one else has an issue with. But I do think that for men their entire identity shouldn’t revolve around them being a provider or the pursuit of women. You should also abandon the prospect of ever finding “The One” because it’s an unattainable goal. People change over time, people drift apart so the idea that you’ll find a soul mate is ludicrous. No one is going to complete you, not forever. Instead of focusing on “The One” you should focus on “The One right now” and you should be happy, but often times you’ll be sad and that’s OK. Your entire identity and your picture of happiness shouldn’t revolve around a single person or an unrealistic goal. So avoid that, focus on self improvement and the improvement of your environment.

Also while we’re on the topic of Feminism there’s this thing that’s been bothering me for a while. OK, so I’m hearing people want to change the Gender of Link from the Legend of Zelda from a boy to a girl which I find just stupid. For starters you’re changing an already established character for no other reason than you want to advance some regressive agenda, you could have made an entirely different character or an entirely different game with a similar premise but no, you’re lazy. It’s kind of like Doctor Who, you changed the character’s gender cause you’re lazy and you couldn’t be bothered making something original. I mean, I don’t really care about the gender of Doctor Who. It’s just the laziness that bugs me. I mean if the Doctor had been a woman all this time no one would have said “Oh, let’s make her a man!” which I guess you could argue is a false equivalency since historically women have gotten the raw deal but I don’t know. I’m against white washing characters too because I thinks its lazy and racist, assuming that the audience wouldn’t be interested in a black character or asian character or any other ethnicity because they can’t relate to anyone who doesn’t have the same race. It’s just this laziness that bothers me. Like you could have a compelling space/time travel adventure show with a female lead that’s really really good. You could have a hero that is inspirational to little girls but you don’t have to take an already existing character and swap them about for no reason. I don’t know. I mean at the end of the day this shit is really minuscule and unimportant. I’m ok with the Doctor being a woman but Link is just stupid. Mainly because you already got a female character you could work with; Zelda. I mean you could switch it around like “Oh what’s this, Link has been captured and the only person to save him is…Zelda?! Oh, how drawl” but I think in the lore they had some bullshit metaphysical reason as to why the game is structured like that. Then again Zelda is a princess so I imagine she has plenty of shit to do in between being kidnapped, you could design some kind of game like Fable around her. You could have her go to war with another Kingdom, that could be cool. I’m not gonna lie, I’ve never played Legend of Zelda so this rant is quite pointless. If they ever do make a Zelda game where the roles are reversed they have to call it “The Adventures of Link” cause if they don’t then what is the point in it all? I don’t know, I just despise laziness.

But yeah Lenehan finishes his peas and beer and leaves the bar. He bumps into his friends in the street and has a chat. He then leaves them and makes it to the rendezvous point he agreed with Corley. He’s waiting, Corley is running a tad late and he’s scared Corley has ditched him and cut him out of the winnings. But before he leaves he sees Corley and the woman walk down the street, in silence. Things appear to have not gone so well. Corley walks the woman to the front door and then walks away down the street. Lenehen watches him for a moment before calling after him. Corley turns around briefly before presuming to ignore him and his calls. It reminded me of that Alan Partdidge Scene. Of course Lenehen eventually catches up with him and Corley after being unresponsive, smiles and shows him a gold coin that the woman gave him. That’s how it ends.

It’s worth noting that Lenehen does return in Joyce’s alleged masterpiece Ulysses, as do many other characters in the Dubliners. In analysis this tale is fairly simple. The moon with the double halo I’ve already mentioned. There’s some brief sights of imagery, the harp is a symbol for Ireland and it’s being played outside of a Protestant run shop so perhaps there’s some kind of analogy for Anglo-Irish relations? I doubt it. There’s a wild theory about how the green pees and the ginger beer are actually an allusion to the Tricolour which I find to be complete and utter horseshit.

Betrayal is a major theme in the story. This can be seen noticeably when Corley shows concern about introducing Lenehen to his date. He’s afraid that he’ll steal her off of him and take the money, thus betraying him. Lenehan grows ever more concerned when Corley is running late, he fears that he went another way to ditch him to keep the money for himself, thus betraying him. You could argue that Corley’s rambling about spending money on women and being disappointed that they didn’t put out is, in his mind, some kind of betrayal but that’s a long shot.

Ultimately this is a story of loneliness and isolation. Lenehen is self aware, he knows that he’s a leech. He wants to land a decent job and pursue happy and fulfilling relationships but he can’t. He’s unable to. Like most of the stories in the Dubliners nothing of real significance happens, the story starts out and ends with the two men walking about Dublin looking for something else to do. The fact that the story ends with a description of the coin shows that the only genuine pursuit they have in life is that of temporary leisure, money. This isn’t a healthy attitude to life which can be seen with Corley’s bad ending withing the girl who is bitter and feels used but delivers him the prize none the less. Even though Lenehen desires to change his life he keeps going back and replaying these same empty activities to no end.

Not much really happens in this story. Outside of Lenehen’s existential crisis there’s nothing really worth noting. Corley is just seen as another swindler and on top of that perhaps a bit of a pervert. There’s the occasional awkward banter. Nothing really substantial.

I’m actually looking forward to seeing Jodie Whitaker in Doctor Who. She was great in Good Vibrations. I don’t know if Bill is coming back. I like Bill but they need to stop killing her. Like she’s been in one season and she’s died like four or five times. I’m going to miss Peter Capaldi though, his doctor had a shaky start but I deeply enjoyed it. I believe he can be summed up very simply; Malcolm Tucker, in Space.

 

 

 

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