Let's chat, shall we? About James Joyce? Dubliners, to be precise. I've begun reading it since I'm on an Irish Lit kick (gearing up for a trip to Ireland in March) and it's a book I already own. It is a collection of 15 short stories, of which I've read the first four.
And I feel like I'm missing something.
They are fine short stories: interesting sketches of a moment in a Dubliner's life. But I feel like I'm not catching that elemental meaning. As of yet there has been nothing that has grabbed me as being wonderful...they don't feel like they are saying anything. Or if they are, I'm clueless.
Perhaps I need more background on Joyce and his stories?
Maybe the collection has more of an overall effect, rather than each story individually?
I have a small high-school level study guide in which I've read the excerpt about Joyce and Dubliners, but I'm not sure it has helped me so much. If anything it has made me think that Joyce was perhaps a little haughty about his writing. I tend to get irritated when I perceive arrogance: when the symbolism is so great and the personal connection so little that extreme analysis is required in order to pull any meaning out of a book I start feeling a little rebellious.
My impression, at this point, is that Joyce was disillusioned with the church and stagnancy of Dublin, but instead of attempting to connect the reader with this opinion in some sort of personal way, he remains aloof. As if he was derisive of the rest of Dublin that didn't escape the stifling tradition as he did.
If you have anything to say, I'd love to hear it. Why are these stories unique? Why are they great, a must-read? What do I need to keep in mind while reading them?