Sunday, September 25, 2022

the last book I ever read (We Don't Know Ourselves: A Personal History of Modern Ireland, excerpt nineteen)

from We Don't Know Ourselves: A Personal History of Modern Ireland by Fintan O'Toole:

I remember when I first read James Joyce’s Ulysses as a student, being startled to find Artane right there as a sinister shadow, already imprinted on the imaginary life of the city. Leopold Bloom goes to the funeral of Paddy Dignam and the men discuss the fate of his young son: ‘Martin is trying to get the youngster into Artane.’ The Jesuit priest, Father Conmee, walks out to the industrial school to make the arrangements. The kid walks through the streets, unaware of what is being planned for him. Later on, in the night-town dream world, ‘Artane orphans, joining hands, caper round’ Bloom. The place flits in and out of consciousness, never quite coming into focus but always there as a portent, a sequel, the unseen fate that awaits the innocent boy. Reading the book, this made complete sense to me. It wasn’t literary modernism. It was social realism.

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