Photo of James Joyce, age 6

James Joyce, age 6

I can’t let February 2nd go by without noting James Joyce’s birthday. Yesterday I had the pleasure of reading his Dubliners short story “Araby” to 20 college students (all of whom, by coincidence, were male, which for this particular story seemed fitting):

NORTH RICHMOND STREET being blind, was a quiet street except at the hour when the Christian Brothers’ School set the boys free. An uninhabited house of two storeys stood at the blind end, detached from its neighbours in a square ground The other houses of the street, conscious of decent lives within them, gazed at one another with brown imperturbable faces.

Can there be a better beginning to a story?

Why not take some time today to celebrate Mr. Joyce’s birthday by reading “Araby” aloud, to let the words, like the dress of Mangan’s sister and the “soft rope of her hair,” swing from side to side. An annotated hypertext offers more information for the hyper curious.

Then, when you’ve read or re-read the story, enjoy this haunting musical adaptation by Chris Rael: