It was many years ago I last read “Dubliners”. If pushed, I would have to say late 70s or early 80s when I took a Short Story elective at University. I would also have to confess that I probably didn’t know what I was reading at the time – nor indeed how to read. I’d like to think that experience and wisdom helps us when it comes to getting closer to books like “Dubliners”; maybe all books. Something about youth being wasted on the young is probably appropriate..!
And some of it is truly wonderful. This from “A Painful Case”:
He lived at a little distance from his body, regarding his own acts with doubtful side-glances. He had an odd autobiographical habit which led him to compose in his mind from time to time a short sentence about himself containing a subject in the third person and a predicate in the past tense. He never gave alms to beggars and walked firmly, carrying a stout hazel.
Joyce has much in common with Picasso. People focus on their later, more ‘abstract’ works, and accuse them of lacking talent, failing to recognise that they were both consummate craftsmen in their fields as evidenced by their magically early work.