Joyce's Vision and Dublin
For once, it is not I who is lost in the thickets, but rather the guide leading a walking tour in Dublin, pointing
out the places that appear in James Joyce’s collection of short stories, Dubliners. Joyce fled Ireland in 19??,
never to return. In fact, Joyce wrote the last two chapters of Ulysses in Paris.(in one of the 19 places he and
his family inhabited in the city of light during the remaining decades of his life.
“But he only wrote about Dublin,” the guide said, bewildered. To stay current, he said, Joyce pumped Irish
friends and acquaintances visiting Paris for details about places and shopkeepers, pub owners, street
names, distances from one place to another.
I understand why Joyce would not write about Paris, a city he could not see. He had a serious and debilitating eye disease—the same as mine—and he had to write from his memories, places that remained especially vibrant, the sights, the details perfectly preserved from his youth when he could still see. He was a careful observer, recording the visual information that would bring his writing to life. Funny how the memories grow brighter as the eyesight grows dimmer; how true I have found this to be.
The disease forced him to change his process, not his ideas. He dictated Finnigan’s Wake to his daughters, one of whom was named Lucia, her light carrying him through the blindness. Samuel Beckett came by to read to him, to discuss, critique, and of course seek advice from the mentor. Joyce kept going, and I plan to do the same, with Gene as my Beckett and as my Lucia. This is clear to me, a straight line through the thickets.