James Joyce captured my heart when I read this quote:
“I’ve put in so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant, and that’s the only way of insuring one’s immortality.”
Although I’ve only read Dubliners, I think he did a pretty good job laying hold of his immortality. Both A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man & Ulysses sit on my to-read pile, waiting for me to read them (and understand very little of them.)
At least I’ve heard that’s what it’s like reading Ulysses.
So why would I want to read a novel I might not understand?
I direct you back to the quote. For me, that’s the reason. But because we want to think everything we read has a deeper / different meaning we argue for days in our college english class trying to prove what James Joyce really meant.
I found it a bit hard to understand some of the stories included in Dubliners until I realized I was looking for something that wasn’t there. I was trying too hard to understand. What you find when you let yourself relax and enjoy the stories you find that the meanings are simple to come upon, but not if you’re reading into every line.
Professors teach us to analyze the story, what’s it really about?
A majority of characters in Dubliners are unchanging. They go through their small plot, hit the climax, the story ends, and there they are, the same exact person they were at the beginning of the story.
Maybe James Joyce means to say that it’s human nature not to change. Maybe he’s not.
I use to want to say in class, “If we can’t rely on the writer because their work could mean something they didn’t intend, and we can’t rely on the reader because they could be critiquing it incorrectly, then all of us are right because no one can be proved wrong.”
I appreciate Joyce because wrote what he wanted to and didn’t much care how it was interpreted.
I believe this is the best way to write. When we focus so much on trying to get our message across in a story it becomes grossly obvious and unenjoyable to read. Maybe we should be more like Joyce.