Short tales of turn-of-the-century Dublin, but capturing the essence of Ireland and urban life. The stories are loosely linked, with a main character in one appearing in a walk-on part in another (and some later do the same in Ulysses): but they stand alone in terms of style and subject matter. Joyce's ability to look inside someone's head is on full display, especially vivd when expressing their disappointments or fears at their own failings.
The strongest story (and the best-known) is certainly The dead, an exploration of alienation and social concern through the medium of a musical soirée rolling into a remembrance of a past love tied up with a husband's jealousy and passion.
But Dublin itself is also a character, especially if one knows the streets and even the shops visited and alluded to – many of which remain intact a century later. It's amazing that a set of stories focusing strongly on their human characters' interactions can also evoke the city so strongly.
5/5. Finished 27 December 2021.
(Originally published on Goodreads.)
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