The Dubliners Review; A Painful Case By James Joyce

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So storm Ophelia has passed and schools are still closed down (well, at least I hope they were closed down) and my scaffolding didn’t fall down or impale me to the wall. Which is a little disappointing. I guess I’ll just have to spend the rest of my days collecting money, throwing expensive parties, buying stupid things right up until some poor little  cuckhold breaks into my garden and shoots me dead.

That’d be swell.

So the next morbid story in the Dubliners is “A Painful Case” and follows a man by the name of Duffy, who looks like Andrew Scott, who coincidentally is also from Dublin.


That’s the best photo I could find on Google of 19th Century Moriarty. So fuck off.

I actually found out that Andrew Scott was in Saving Private Ryan. Yeah, he played some guy on the Omaha Beach opening. That’s pretty cool. It’s a shame he had to be in Specter, one of Daniel Craig’s worst Bond films. Jesus christ there was so much wasted potential. It makes me glad that Craig still has one film left, hopefully it will be good or at least like a remake of From Russia with Love or live and Let Die. Yeah, that’d be class. Get Childish Gambino to sing a tune as well.

So anyway this guy Duffy is another fucking weirdo with Misanthropic tendencies. If I didn’t know any better I’d say that Joyce may be a one trick pony. I mean the man does have some good quotes in him, and I do relate to this character more than the rest because I found this quote quite endearing; “He had an odd autobiographical habit which led him to compose in his mind from time to time a short sentence about himself containing a subject in the third person and a predicate in the past tense.” …I dunno, maybe it’s just me.

This guy’s a bit of a weirdo, a recluse if you will. He’s this middle class snob who lives by himself and has the ego of a PC gamer. He works as some kind of bank clerk and he has no friends and he never talks to anybody. He never goes out, except to the opera house cause he’s a fan of classical music (or for that time, music? It’s Mozart) and on one of his outings he meets this woman (who’s in her forties) and her daughter (who’s just a few years younger than Duffy) and him and this woman start talking, he completely ignores the daughter by the way, and after bumping into each other three times they start hanging out.

They get pretty close, he starts hanging around at her house and her Husband doesn’t really mind cause he thinks he’s courting his daughter and not potentially making him a cuckhold with his wife. So they’re hanging around for months on end, letting each other borrow books and listen to music. They talk about politics and philosophy and so on. One night they’re at a cottage and he’s yammering on and she grabs his hand and moves it up to her face, making him touch her cheek.

Now with Joyce’s apparent notoriety for being a pervert I thought we were going to get a good love affair story here. That’d be compelling, how these two people with a significant age gap engage in an affair in Pre-Easter rising Ireland, creating this unsettling narrative in this suffocating culture where sex is a taboo subject matter and it’s frowned upon and we have this per petulant guilt from both parties because they feel they’re doing wrong against both their community and her husband but they’re conflicted because of their strong feelings towards each other. That’d be an interesting drama/romance story.

That’s not what we get. What happens is that Duffy here is shocked that the lady interpreted his words like that; “Mr Duffy was very much surprised. Her interpretation of his words disillusioned him. He did not visit her for a week” Yep, you read that right. The guy fucking ran out on her and didn’t call her for a week. What…what the fuck? I think this guy might be autistic. I mean- who the fuck in their right mind has a reaction like this?

Like he’s been hanging out with this woman for months, they’re really really close and he’s fucking appalled that she made a sexual advance towards him?! Oh my god this is just… this is just fucking typical of Joyce. Why couldn’t you write a proper love story instead of this autistic mess? Fuck, I’d have settled for a vulgar sex scene of any kind- even that one with Eric Andre and a Snowman.

But yeah, he completely aborts the entire relationship. They cut off all ties. Four years later (yep, this story jump to four years later) and he’s gone back to his dull little life. He’s been writing stuff down a lot recently (cause the woman suggested he ought to, it’s kind of like Spud in Trainspotting 2). His writing is…well, let’s just say it doesn’t age very well; “Love between man and man is impossible because there must not be sexual intercourse and friendship between man and woman is impossible because there must be sexual intercourse.” Yep. Joyce wrote that down.

Probably because he thought it was endearing to the story or like super powerful or something? I guess Joyce has never been friends with a woman he considers unfuckable and he’s never been drunk enough that he thought it was a good idea to let a man fuck him.

gay stories

But that does raise a weird point though. Like women are much more comfortable being gay with each other than most men. Like if a woman claims she’s had a sexual experience with another woman than it’s cool but if a guy does the same thing with another guy it’s not? Men don’t get to have that same shit that women do. I dunno. It’s weird.

Most guys just aren’t really comfortable being or acting like they’re gay. I mean, I mind in first year (speaking anecdotally) all the boys did this weird thing where they pretended to have sex with each other. Which was weird and no doubt the result of watching too much porn at an inappropriate age. Like these guys would be sitting on each others lap, bouncing up and down and mimicking orgasm groans which…it was fucking weird. But these same guys wouldn’t even stand next to each other when they took a piss.

I’m not kidding, like in one of our toilets there was like five urinals and it was an unspoken law that you had to either take the middle urinal or the outer two urinals- you couldn’t take the urinal next to anyone. It was fucking weird man. Even if there was ten or twenty guys in the toilets and they were all dying for a piss none of them would take the urinal beside anyone else. Cause they didn’t want anyone to think theye were gay or weird by looking at their dick.

It’s odd too because these toilets were rarely empty. Like there were always groups of guys in there eating and just hanging about, which raises the question- if these people were so uncomfortable with the prospect of being gay then why did they spend an inordinate amount of time in a room where it was socially acceptable to whip your dick out?

I don’t know.

Catholic school is weird, man.

Anyway, one day Duffy is having lunch and reading the newspaper and he’s so shocked at what he reads that he forgets to eat his meal. The waitress comes over and asks him if everything is alright and then he awkwardly just eats the rest of the meal even though it had gone cold. He runs on home to re-read the article in the comfort of his shitty apartment. The article reads;


a painful case

So your woman got pretty depressed after your man rejected her in an autistic over reaction, she became an alcoholic, alienated her husband and daughter and eventually wound up walking in front of a train. Killing herself.

It’s quite sad, quite tragic. Here’s what Duffy had to say of the matter; “What an end! The whole narrative of her death revolted him and it revolted him that he had ever spoken to her of what he held sacred…Not merely had she degraded herself; she had degraded him. He saw the squalid tract of her vice, miserable and malodorous. His souls companion! …Was it possible he had deceived himself so utterly about her? …He had no difficulty now in approving of the course he had taken” Well, um, how about…I don’t know, not saying that when you find out someone close to you just killed themselves?

Really Joyce? That’s his first thought? You’re sure about that?

Fucking hell…

Like, I don’t even know how to start. That there was an edited extraction- the whole thing is much much worse. It’s fucking…who says that shit? Really, who the fuck reacts to a persons suicide by saying “You dishonor me! I knew it was the right path to abort this relationship!” Like…fuck, you goddamn sociopath- fuck- not even a sociopath, a sociopath wouldn’t even say dumb shit like that- that’s just some kind of autistic nihilistic spasm in a concoction of words right there…not unlike my review, so far.

You’ll be glad to hear he does eventually progress into feeling sad and bad about himself. Considering he did condemn her to a life of misery and loneliness. The only woman to ever love him. He goes to the pub and stares blankly at a pair of men talking about an estate or something. He leaves and walks around the park and feels like complete and utter shit. Which he should.

So despite our man being a complete and utter cunt there’s really not much to talk about here. There’s a continuation of the use of colours such as brown and yellow when hes eating and drinking that could represent decay, like in the Boarding House, or it could just be the shade of a really shitty pint. I don’t know.

What I do know is that this man is orderly. He doesn’t like change. That’s why he doesn’t have friends, rarely goes out and keeps to the same old routine. Eating the same food, reading the same papers, doing the same job over and over again in his contented solitude. Only when he meets a woman with the same interests as him does he change that routine, allowing himself this innocent little adventure. But when it gets too rowdy  for him he cuts it off and returns to his solitude. When confronted with the costs of that solitude he reflects on his poor decisions, by condemning her to a life of loneliness he has condemned her to die. By condemning her to die he has condemned himself to a life of loneliness.

Perhaps he’ll meet the same fate. Or perhaps not. Maybe he’s not the reason she was drinking, maybe two years prior to her suicide she suffered a personal tragedy or maybe she got schizophrenia and became an alcoholic and became depressed and suicidal for a number of issues that doesn’t revolve around Duffy. Maybe Duffy is inserting himself into a story that isn’t about him. Maybe he’s just projecting, like Joyce.


But this story definitely had some promise to it. But like all of Joyce’s short stories there’s a decent premise but it’s poorly executed. There’s promise and the disappointment of that promise.

Yeah…Childish Gambino needs to make a song for the next Bond film. Like if fucking Madonna could make a song for a Bond film then there’s no excuse for Childish Gambino or Run the Jewels to make a track. Fuck, even Death Grips should do a Bond song- that’d be some good shit right there. Get some saxophones in there and all that jazz…


Speaking of Saxophones, Bill Clinton was up at Stormont today. Talked a wee bit about Brexit and Culture and working together and all that shite. I mean, it undoubtedly fell on deaf ears. But it was nice of him to come along.

I like Bill Clinton. Despite him being a little dodgy he’s done great things for Northern Ireland. But I don’t think Northern Ireland will ever be in a place where it can do great things, I’d bet a salary on that.




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