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The Trieste Joyce School - Day 7

Participant Diary, June 25th – July 2nd, 2016

When you reach the end of a journey, what can you do, but sum up the entire experience and try to weigh it? That was exactly what we did the very last day of our literary pilgrimage.

Joyce’s works have had so much influence on our literary and world perception that we cannot but ask ourselves what the world would have looked like if he had never written his books. We might not be fully aware at the first glance, but such is the abundance of his insights that we can find various traces of his works in many contemporary writers. Furthermore, his works have become a touchstone for complexity and meaningfulness (just remember which book Marilyn Monroe holds in her hands during a break in shooting a film; what book is given as a gift to so many people when you want to leave a good impression?). Do we do anything positive by just talking about Ulysses and giving it to other people without having read a page of it? Do we have the right to celebrate Bloomsday and buy T-shirts with the text of Ulysses without fully understanding the meaning of it? Is it justifiable that we perceive Joyce’s works as belonging exclusively to the academic elite which can understand its complexity? Would Joyce agree with us that they are the only relevant justices? (Joyce himself said that he wrote Ulysses to puzzle literature professors for the following hundred years!).

Trieste, Day Seven

The fact that Joyce belongs to everyone and no one was proven at the round table, where we learnt that, in Russia, Joyce represents a mirror for the nation which is to be carefully examined, in India he is seen as a straw which can save an entire people from drowning, a drop of hope in a sea of struggles, a role model for all of those who are to ‘fly by those nets’, while in Iran, he is a picture to be painted and admired, which is a rather easy task, since his works are such an intricate interplay of fragments of numerous images.

Have we learnt anything? Indeed, we have - we have learnt that Triestine air can set a man free but that the inner struggle is always only ours. We have learnt that Joyce sang, wrote and wandered the streets of Trieste, frequented brothels and ale-houses, smiled and ruminated, breathed and trod upon its soil. We have learnt that to love literature means seeing life as a spectre of possibilities and that it is only up to us which of them will come true and which will fall into oblivion. It was a lesson as wide as the sea and as deep as the sky.

Another torch is lit in the temple of books.

The photo is courtesy of Danijela Mitrović.

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