Dublinesque

Terry Eagleton writes:

Samuel Riba is an outsider: a lost soul, failed publisher and reformed alcoholic whose sanity seems at times uncertain. Unhinged from the workaday world in the manner of Stephen Dedalus, yet given to free association in the style of Leopold Bloom, he sets out from his native Barcelona on a trip to Ireland in search of his long-buried self. His plan is to mark Bloomsday by recreating Paddy Dignam’s funeral from Ulysses, though these particular obsequies will be for the passing of print and high literature in an age in which Gutenberg has given way to Google. Just as Bloom is a bit of a literary type (a dealer in advertisements) and a hero in his own humdrum way, so Riba is a minor literary figure who takes a heroic stand against the decline of belles lettres, a falling-off he associates with an apocalyptic crack-up of civilisation itself. Bloomsday, the novel glumly notes, rhymes with doomsday. Yet it is really his own mortality Riba is mourning. The drink has played havoc with his innards. The novel is about the death of the author in more senses than one. Funerals make a kind of art out of death, and so does Dublinesque.

(LRB 19 July 2012)