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READING/ From Joyce to Montale, when there is a 'chance' to save humanity from paralysis

March Sun 27, 2011

Dublin, XIX th Century  Dublin, XIX th Century

Enrico Reggiani has written in this journal on the role of intellectuals in the current crisis of Ireland, considering what some writers have done in similar times. James Joyce, among others, describes the paralysis of Irish society at the beginning of the twentieth century. His relationship with Ireland was critical from the early years after the rejection of the Catholic faith in which he was educated and the decision to dedicate his life to art. The life of exile led him to Trieste and Paris, among other cities, but without taking the thought of Dublin away from his mind. From 1904 to 1907, he wrote fifteen short stories of Dubliners. He calls the book "the child which I carried for years and years in the womb of the imagination", but which he did not really expect to come to light: that would happen in 1914, through the intervention of Ezra Pound, and after rejection by forty publishers

 

The text was read by the first critics from a naturalistic point of view, as an analytical description, sarcastic and derisive toward the places and atmosphere of Dublin. Later, the focus shifted towards the more symbolic and esoteric aspects. It is true that through the deplorable living conditions of the inhabitants of Dublin, Joyce portrays the miserable life of a modern city. For him, Dublin is the center of political paralysis, religious, cultural and social, and not just Ireland, but the era in which he lives. While rejecting Catholicism, his country, and his culture, he cannot help but speak of them, a sign of a very profound attachment.

 

The decision not to cooperate actively in the revival movements which stirred Ireland was a prelude to the commitment to another way to be useful, namely writing. The most interesting thing about these flawless stories is the epiphany that occurs in each of them, at some point: a minor element, a piece of music, an object which become a revelation of truth. From this point of view, the esteem that links Joyce to Montale is understandable.



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