Colto e ironico,un piacere per il lettore;incantevole.
Adesso che ho scoperto Enrique Vila Matas come lettrice mi sento molto meglio
Down stucco sidestreets,
Where light is pewter
And afternoon mist
Brings lights on in shops
Above race-guides and rosaries,
A funeral passes.
This is the first verse of Philip Larkin's Dublinesque, a poem set in Dublin in the early years of the 20th century. The images Larkin uses evoke perfectly the Dublin of Leopold Bloom from James Joyce's Ulysses. The poem therefore provides a very apt title for Enrique Vila-Matas's requiem for the age of print in which he nominates Joyce's writing as the pinnacle of literary achievement of the entire Gutenberg age (Joyce himself would probably have proposed Shakespeare). It was this idea of examining the high points of the print era as the world moves further into the digital age that attracted me to Vila-Matas's Dublinesque. As ebooks become more and more widely read, we are obliged to consider the position of print publishing and to take whatever steps necessary to ensure that there will always be incentives for publishers to encourage and continue printing quality writing. However Vila-Matas doesn't address the challenge of how to preserve paper and print publishing in this book. Instead, his main character, Samuel Riba, an ex-publisher, is so certain of the passing of the age of print that he decides to hold a funeral service to mark it in the very cemetery where Leopold Bloom attended Paddy Dignam's funeral in Ulysses, on the 16th of June, 1904. This is just one of the many parallels that emerge as the reader makes his way, along with Riba and three co-mourners, just as Bloom did, to Glasnevin cemetery on Bloomsday over a hundred years later. In fact, Vila-Matas cites Ulysses at such length and with such frequency that Dublinesque becomes a homage to Ulysses interspersed with nods to Samuel Beckett, Philip Larkin and some other famous literary names. It is all very clever and the first half worked really well for me, especially as I too was visiting Dublin and found myself at Finnegan's pub in Dalkey where one of the scenes takes place. The second half I found less interesting, perhaps it went on just a bit too long even though the entire book is scarcely a third as long as Ulysses itself. One of the main merits of Dublinesque for me was the inspiration to pick up Ulysses again and tackle it properly - the last time, I stopped half way through. Now I'm mid-way again but this time I'm appreciating it a lot more. Maybe that's an age thing or maybe Riba has prepared the ground for me. One thing I'm sure of however, Riba doesn't stand a chance against Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus in the character stakes; he's but a pale shade in comparison. But perhaps that is exactly what Vila-Matas was trying to do: recreate Bloom's ghost......Continua