Welcome to Travel Readings
Melbourne: The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas
Books, Movies and Beyond…
Books, Movies and Beyond…: Washington, DC and New York
Books, Movies and Beyond…: Rome
Rio de Janeiro: Crimes of August (Agosto) by Rubem Fonseca
Istanbul: The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk
Liège (Belgium): Pedigree by Georges Simenon
Books, Movies and Beyond…: Lisbon
Books, Movies and Beyond…: Cambodia
Hyde Park, Chicago: Ravelstein by Saul Bellow
Paris: Flowers of Ruin and Suspended Sentences by Patrick Modiano
Books, Movies and Beyond…: Naples
Books, Movies and Beyond…: Tanzania
Sri Lanka: Running in the Family by Michael Ondaatje
Books, Movies and Beyond… : Venice
Dublin: The Dead by James Joyce
Books, Movies and Beyond: Iran
Santa Cruz, Bolivia: The Matter of Desire (Materia del Deseo) by Edmundo Paz Soldán
Books, Movies and Beyond: Syria
Djibouti: Passage of Tears (Passage des Larmes) by Abdourahman Waberi
Books, Movies and Beyond: Armenia
Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso: The Parachute Drop by Norbert Zongo
Bangkok: Sightseeing by Rattawut Lapcharoensap
Périgord, France: The Caves of Périgord by Martin Walker
Books, Movies and Beyond: Brussels
Naples: The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante
Books, Movies and Beyond: Rio de Janeiro
Tajikistan: Hurramabad by Andrei Volos
New-York: City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg
Israel and Palestine: To the End of the Land by David Grossman and Wild Thorns by Sahar Khalifeh
Books, Movies and Beyond: Bavaria and Southern Germany
Cape Town: Boyhood, Youth and Summertime by J.M. Coetzee
Books, Movies and Beyond: India
Blue Ridge Mountains: Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
Books, Movies and Beyond: Algeria
Austrian Alps: A Whole Life (Ein ganzes Leben) by Robert Seethaler
Books, Movies and Beyond: Africans in America
Zimbabwe: The Last Resort by Douglas Rogers
Books, Movies and Beyond: Colombia
Belgian Ardennes: The All Saints’ Day Lovers by Juan Gabriel Vásquez
Côte d’Ivoire: Aya of Yop City by Marguerite Abouet and Clément Oubrerie
Japan: Haruki Murakami and Amélie Nothomb
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt and The Rope and The Denial of Saint Peter by Charles Baudelaire
Books, Movies and Beyond: Cairo
Vancouver: What is Remembered by Alice Munro
Ghent (Belgium): War and Turpentine by Stefan Hertmans
Haiti: An Aroma of Coffee and Dining with the Dictator by Dany Laferrière and The Comedians by Graham Greene
Iceland: Jar City by Arnaldur Indriðason
Siena and Tuscany : Il Palio delle contrade morte by Fruttero & Lucentini and The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje
China : Wild Swans. Three Daughters of China, by Jung Chang
Amsterdam: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris
Former Soviet Union: The Unwomanly Face of War  by Svetlana Alexievich
Provence: The Horseman on the Roof by Jean Giono, La charrette bleue by René Barjavel, Madame de Sévigné and Ventoux by Bert Wagendorp
Moscow: The House of Government by Yuri Slezkine, The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov and Limonov by Emmanuel Carrère
Books, Movies and Beyond: Vietnam

Dublin: The Dead by James Joyce

I saw “The Dead” before reading it. It was in Chicago, it was snowing, one night in December. I was walking from my apartment to the University Theater. I think this is one the first play which I saw in English and at this time I had only vaguely heard of Joyce.

I walked back home, alone. The snow was covering the streets. I was in the middle of one the most intense and important period in my career, but the play had done more than offer me a welcome parenthesis. It opened my eyes to new horizons.

Since then I have read the story, in its French translation and then in the English original. And I have had the opportunity to visit Dublin. No snow for my last visit, for a conference at Trinity College in July. The conference offered some of the traditional touristic outing, such as a visit to the Guinness brewery. My hotel was also close to Stephen’s Green where I went walking in the early evening. I also followed an itinerary remembering the « Easter Rising » of 1916, the rebellion of the Irish republicans against the British rule, an episode of European history of which I knew very little. In today’s Dublin almost hundred years later, it takes a well-informed eye to see and understand evidence of these events which have shaped the Irish nation.


Trinity College


Stephen’s Green


The Dublin described by Joyce in «Dubliners » is almost contemporary to the republican rebellion. The Irish question and the tensions between Catholics and Protestants do not, however, appear to play a major role in the stories.  Among the guests at the holiday dinner, there is a Miss Ivors, a republican activist. She reprimands Gabriel Conroy for writing a literary column for a British leaning paper. Another guest, Mr. Browne, is gently teased for being of “the other persuasion”.



« The Dead » describes this traditional dinner. The guests know each other, most of them come every year. Even if it is not too scripted or straitened, the evening follows a ritual anticipated by all.  We all know well the conviviality of those parties of the Christmas season.  Every year the same menu – goose or turkey – the same uncle who drinks too much too quickly, the same sarcasms that seem gentle but can still hurt. And as usual, Gabriel will carve the goose and at the end of the dinner, he will push back his chair, raise his glass and deliver a short and well-crafted toast.

After the dinner, one of the hosts will sit at the piano and people will start singing. The last song, performed when the guests are leaving, is « The Lass of Aughrim », a traditional Irish song.

On their way back to the hotel, Gabriel doesn’t recognize his wife Gretta. She seems absent, far away from that party, far from Dublin. The last song brought back memories of a young man who loved her a long time ago in Galway. He died – for her, she thinks – a short while after. One song and a ride under the snow were enough for Gabriel to realize that he barely knew his wife.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *