Monday, September 28, 2009

Short Story Monday/The Sisters by James Joyce

After reading JoAnn's short story choice last Monday, I decided to read this first story in James Joyce's Dubliners. It is only a few pages and deals with the death of a priest. I finished reading thinking I just didn't get it. I had so many questions. Where are the boy's parents? Why is he living with his aunt and uncle, and who is 'Old Cotter' who seems to live with them? A paying boarder perhaps? The few pages were so dark, so dismal that I could barely get through them. Apparently some 'incident' with a broken chalice occurred in the late priest's life causing him to lose his mind, but it was very unclear to me. I didn't like it at all, and it reminded me that I have read other short stories by Joyce in years past and I came away feeling much the same; wanting sunlight and fresh air, and very, very glad I didn't live within those pages. This was his first published work, in 1904, and was later revised and collected in Dubliners ten years later. You may read other Short Story Monday reviews here.

James Joyce in 1904.


  1. Was the story in stream of consciousness like his Ulysses?

  2. James Joyce has always been a closed book to me I'm afraid. Despite reading some of his work at college I find I don't have the kind of mind that has the faintest idea what he's on my Great Uncle Will would say "such is life"
    Perhaps he's just "not my cup of tea"

  3. Nan, I just wanted to tell you that your header photo is just amazing. I love the colors! Spectacular!

  4. Sorry you didn't like this one, Nan. Lately with short stories, I've been thinking of them as snapshots. I see only what's presented at that moment and have to draw my own conclusions as to what's happened previously and what may come next. Sometimes it's OK, but other times I just get frustrated...didn't seem to mind it with Joyce though.

  5. The only Joyce I've read was another short story: Araby (which I quite enjoyed). This one does sound pretty dire though.

  6. Not really, Gigi. I've never even attempted U. :<)

    Cristian, good adjectives!

    Val, the stories aren't as hard, but they sure aren't cheery.

    Oh, thank you, Kay! The color is amazing around here just now.

    JoAnn, I think you've got it just right. This is why I so enjoyed the Agatha Christie one - the whole story was right there.

    John, I read that one a while back, and I found it depressing too. Me thinks, Joyce wasn't such a happy guy or at least his childhood wasn't. I haven't read much about his life actually so I don't know.


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