Joyce’s ‘Dubliners’ Is A Lesson In How To Live A Bold Life


Book: Dubliners by James Joyce; Skirt: Sold out, similar here.

There’s a recurrent theme found in the stories collected in James Joyce’s Dubliners. Joyce always adds one character who is stuck in life in one form or another. There’s Eveline, who we meet as she is sitting “at the window watching the evening invade the avenue.” There’s Miss Devlin who “had become Mrs. Kearney out of spite” and there are more.

James-Joyce's-Dubliners-how-to-live-a-bold-lifeAll of these characters have an opportunity to flee at some point in the story. Eveline could have run away with Frank but at the final moment she retreats back into her safe life and misses her chance to be bold.

Joyce spent many years fighting to get his work published the way he wanted it to be published (there were revisions, revisions, and some more revisions). As I sat reading these stories and as I thought about Joyce’s own life and the years it took him to publish these stories, as well as Ulysses, I realized what a great lesson we can take from this writer and his work.

The stories in Dubliners will not fill you with hope. Rather, there will be moments of anger and moments of sadness when you witness these characters settling into a life they do not want. Unlike his characters, however, Joyce lived the life he wanted to live and wrote the stories he wanted to write. Was he revered? Not much at first. Was he understood? Not by many but he still lived a bold life and gave us some of the boldest pieces of literature any bookish person could hope for.

How to live a bold life

So my question is, why shouldn’t we do as Joyce has done? Why shouldn’t we live boldly?

Living boldly can mean so many different things for different people. For some, it’s traveling the world, while for others it’s setting up home and living an honest life. For some people living boldly means being who they are, even though most people don’t get them and for others, it’s knowing they can go anywhere, without being discriminated.

For me, it’s spending the rest of my life reading and writing. It may sound boring for most people but it rings idyllic bells in my ears. I don’t think living boldly means feeling like you are better than those around, I say this because we can confuse between wanting something for ourselves and wanting something to feel like we are the best.

It’s more of an inner serenity, where you find yourself in a place where you may want many things but you know that you don’t really need anything because you already have all that you need.

I hope you take a note from Joyce and go for it — whatever that ‘it’ means.

Also, I would love to know what living boldly for you means in the comments below!

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