At the turn of the last century, James Joyce gave the world a unique window into Dublin life. With ‘Dubliners’, his collection of short stories, we got the records of a man who fascinated by the people of his city – each with a different , compelling story to tell. The collection formed a depiction of Irish life when nationalism and class difference was at its peak, and covered the viewpoints of the young, the growing and the old.
One of the great things about modern technology is the way we can travel back to bygone years from the comfort of our sofa. The Google cultural institute, with the help of The National Library of Ireland, have collected the photography of JJ Clarke, a Co Monaghan photographer who lived and worked during the time of Joyce’s writing. Much like Joyce, his images captured the daily, and they give us a glimpse of a city that inspired the great Irish writer, they show the Dublin that Joyce saw. The figures cut familiar shapes, and wouldn’t be out of place in one of Joyce’s meandering chapters, as his characters wander through Dublin’s streets, bypassing folk young and old, animated in daily rituals.
The project gives us a true insight into real Irish life, the visualisation of one of the most accurate documenters of the Irish experience in literary history. What both Dubliners and Clarkes photos outline is the beauty in the mundane - mundane events where nothing remarkable happens. But it’s not always in the remarkable that affects our lives the most. In Dubliners we see banal events causing life-changing epiphanies , making the characters reconsider their perceptions of the lives they lead. Maybe it’s something we can still learn from. We shouldn’t be looking for the remarkable, the outstanding. Every moment we live should have the potential to change our future – so enjoy every moment, and Face Life Singing.
Take a look at the full article and discover a Dublin that sparked a literary revolution.