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I do enjoy Joyce, but it's not an easy read. I enjoy a challenge though. As for depressing stories, they are entertaining- just not in the same way as happy ones. I can stand hardly anything written by Hardy though. Part of it is plotline but it is mostly writing style. I find it irritating.
I disagree that few enjoy reading stories that contain angst. How many people read Romeo and Juliet and express their delight in this play? or other tragedies of the Bard? The fact that so many Victorian novels have had appeal to large audiences must, indeed, confirm that there are many who did, indeed, enjoy reading these novels.
Unlike others, there are readers who do sense something positive in reading works such as Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'Ubervilles and James Joyce's Dubliners. For, one thing, these narratives are realistic and the reader can empathize with characters. In addition, readers can find communion with the souls who suffer the Irish paralysis in Joyce's stories. Have not many had similar experiences?
It is this commonality with human nature that is the appeal of Joyce's Dubliners, not to mention a better understanding of his people. His writing is skillful, penetrating, unsympathetic, symbolic, thoughtful--well worth reading. They remind the American reader of the tour advertised in New Orleans: "Tour----- see the neighborhoods of the tragic Irish."
As #3 points out, "enjoy" is an interesting word that you need to specify precisely. I do appreciate the immense artistic achievement that these stories represent, but I don't necessarily enjoy reading stories about people who experience epiphanies and realise just how insignificant or immature they are. I do think these stories are incredible though, and enjoy reading them from this perspective.
I don't enjoy reading Joyce's The Dubliners. I don't enjoy it for the simple reason that I don't find sorrow, suffering, and angst enjoyable. It's my considered opinion that no one finds these topics "enjoyable" but that we profess cultural "enjoyment" because it is literary art. Dr. Peter Kramer supports this view--and is strongly opposed to such "enjoyment"--and explains why in his groundbreaking 2005 book Against Depression.
I read "The Dubliners" many years ago, as part of school. I did not take the time to really read it. I scanned through it. This book is now on my list to reread. I know it is a classic and will have a different appreciation for it now.
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