Of James Joyce, Literary Criticism, and the Sea

I went on vacation the last week of May, and boy did that feel good! It was the first long (1-week) vacation I took with my significant-other-unit (aka, hubs), since probably our trip to Cancun December 2007.

Besides healthful fruits and vegetables, sea-salty air, and lots of outdoor activities…it makes you think about poetry via images. The landscape is gorgeous that as you’re trying to formulate prose to describe it you get carried away into other thoughts of descriptors for the colors, the transparency, the cloud formations….

Upon my return I faced returning to classes and work, and a pleasant grade of A on my Hamlet via Psychoanalytic criticism paper suddenly elevated my spirits for a while longer, allowing me to coast on the post-vacation high. The class then delved from Hamlet to James Joyce’s The Dead, a unique and layered look at early 20th century Irish life, and the complexities of self-conscious, self-aware, and intellectual individuals in polite, Irish society around those days. Much political, patriotic, and religious contention reigned at the time…and I’m not sure we’ve actually moved beyond those elements in today’s Irish society. The short story made for a fascinating introduction for me into Joyce’s works. I am looking forward to dabbling in the remaining pieces that form The Dubliners collection–of which The Dead was a part.

The movie we saw in class helped bring some of the story and characters to life…the noisy party was not as relevant in the book because we were mostly in the lead character’s head, hearing his internal dialogue. And although John Huston took some liberties, both book and movie stood on their own and were a great pleasure to live through. Angelica Huston was lovely and delicate as Greta, a true treat to see this lady, as well.

Finally, as all good things come to an end… my 10-week term came to an end and so did this lovely literary criticism course, which I’d wished would go on. In part because of the lovely camaraderie and the eloquent and passionate professor, and in part also because of these amazing works we delved into. I found my own past readings and literary tastes suddenly lacking. And I hope to shortly compensate by means of acquiring copies (electronic or otherwise) of works by Faulkner, Homer, and James Joyce. I may also revisit old Papa… Ernest Hemingway, in order to recapture some of that seafaring, adventurous spirit I touched while on vacay.

Meanwhile, I’m researching surfing beaches and classes in Lake Michigan…wish me luck 😉


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