James Joyce and his Influence on Dublin

28 Oct

James Joyce is one of Ireland’s most well known authors. I had the fortune of studying some his work last year in high school and have become quite familiar with it. Ever since I began wandering Dublin, I have had constant flashbacks to a book of his, Dubliners. This book is about the lives of everyday people who live in Dublin and the experiences they have. Readers experience everyday life in this city through the eyes of every social class present at the time of the book, the late 19th/early 20th century. It’s ironic because when I was reading Dubliners, I did not know that I would be in the city of Dublin for my first semester of college, seeing all of the sights Joyce refers to.

James Joyce is a true Dubliner through and through and has left his image all throughout the city. There are references to James Joyce all over. Just down the block from my apartment is the James Joyce house, number 15 Usher’s Island. This is the house where The Dead, a chapter in Dubliners, apparently took place. The Dead is about a dinner party in which the hosts, Kate and Julia Morkan, invite a myriad of guests to their house for a formal evening. Actors recreate the dinner party from the story as onlookers watch and experience the book firsthand.

Right next to this house is the James Joyce Bridge. It is a big white arch bridge that goes over the River Liffey. It is one of the many bridges that connect the south side of Dublin to the north. It is one of the more modern bridges, with large white arches and futuristic LED lights that turn on at night to accent the bridge. Santiago Calatrava designed it. It was dedicated to the author in June 2003.

Lastly, about ten-fifteen minutes outside of the city center, is the Glasnevin Cemetery. It is here where James Joyce’s parents are buried along with the other 1.5 million people who inhabit this cemetery. Their headstone is white and stands out amongst all of the others. Surprisingly, James himself is buried in Zurich where he died after undergoing ulcer surgery.

Looking back on all of this, I find it interesting how after reading this one book in my senior year of high school I have experienced so much of it in the real world. Connections from daily life to the literary world are possible and happen all around us. Sometimes I feel as though as if I have entered a different world when walking around Dublin with my mind jumping back and forth to descriptions of the city I had read in Joyce’s work. This is an important skill to hone, as it will allow one to make connections between things that may seem distant. It just goes to show how what I learned back in the classroom is actually applying to my life out of high school.

-Scott Schmidt

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