Monday, September 21, 2009

"The Sisters" by James Joyce

It's time to get back into the Sort Story Monday routine. Sometime last week, I stumbled upon Tony's Reading List and his review of Dubliners by James Joyce. It reminded me that my own copy, which I'd purchased more than a year ago figuring it would be a 'gentler' introduction to Joyce, was still waiting on the shelf. Tony convinced me to take it down and at least read the first story.
I found themes in "The Sisters" that I expected (death, religion/priests), but was surprised at its accessibility. It starts:

"There was no hope for him this time: it was the third stroke. Night after night I has passed the house (it was vacation time) and studied the lighted square of window: and night after night I had found it lighted in the same way, faintly and evenly. If he was dead, I thought, I would see the reflection of candles on the darkened blind for I knew that two candles must be set at the head of a corpse."

The narrator soon learns the old priest has indeed died and, as he listens to a conversation between his aunt, uncle and Old Cotter, tries not to betray his emotions as he hears them say the priest taught him a great deal and had a "great wish" for him. In the evening, he visits the "house of mourning" with his aunt. They are received by the priest's two sisters. A detailed account of the conversation follows.

This story was like a fascinating snapshot - a picture of an event/moment that just ends abruptly. I will be reading more stories from Dubliners this week.

Visit John at The Book Mine Set to see who else is talking about short stories today, or leave a link to your own.

10 comments:

  1. Oh that does sound intriguing doesn't it! I must check the library catalogue to see if we have any short stories by Joyce. I've read more short stories in the past few months than during my whole life.

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  2. It does sound very entertaining!

    I have an award for you!

    http://gofita.blogspot.com/2009/09/more-fun-awards.html

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  3. Dubliners is one of my favorite books. Enjoy!

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  4. Dubliners doesn't seem as obscure and scary as Ulysses, does it? I should tackle this one first, and, as usual, you have brought to my attention yet another great read!

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  5. Darlene - Short stories are a relatively new thing for me, too. I read a couple last spring (the first since high school) and was hooked!

    Hmsgofita - Thank you!! I'll be right over.

    DS - Dubliners has been such a surprise! I can see why it's one of your favorites, and am looking forward to another story tonight.

    Matt - It's not at all scary, although I was expecting it to be. Joyce has always seemed so intimidating, but Dubliners is actually very approachable.

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  6. I have an old copy of Dubliners on the shelf (cost - $1.45!!) and I'll read The Sisters next week for Short Story Monday, and come back and read more seriously what you've written.

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  7. Nan - It's a very short story, not more than 10 pages. I read the second one last night. So far, I am pleasantly surprised.. .was expecting them to be much more convoluted.

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  8. I feel like I might need a PHD to read this author...would I?

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  9. I read Dubliners for similar reasons. Thought it would be a good entry point for Joyce. And I really enjoyed them, but still never managed to read anything else. So far anyway!

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  10. Staci - That's what I thought, too, but it doesn't seem to be true for Dubliners. Now maybe for Ulysses...

    Jo - I may not get beyond this for quite some time (if ever!), but at least I've read a little bit of Joyce.

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