Working with Clay

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Collaborative Dubliners: Joyce in Dialogue, 2012, pp. 210 - 237
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Our title, "Working with Clay," which conjures the image of an artist with his or her materials gradually giving shape to a whole, is an apt representation of the collaboration between a fiction writer, Gabrielle Carey, who creates with words, and an academic, Barbara Lonnquist, whose creative pursuit lies in trying to plumb their often secret life. The process of reading this story in a dialogue, which occurred in various stages, with some long breaks, and across continents and time zones, seems a fitting response to Joyce's project in "Dubliners" of inspiring reading as a cycle of interrogation and rereading. Gabrielle's "celebration of the naive reading" pointed to the timelessness of "Dubliners," which, although culturally specific and grounded in the historical context of turn-of-the-last-century Ireland, had the power to speak to a young woman in Australia many decades later. With the eye of a creative writer, she was quick to catch the luminous detail or quirk of character that gave the story its human appeal. The academic reader, drawn in by Joyce's verbal play, which opens up multiple possible readings, found liberation in the doubling of "Dubliners." The process of balancing these two approaches has led to a mutual interrogation of not only Maria's story within "Clay" but our own preconceptions about her plight. Copyright © 2012 by Syracuse University Press. All Rights Reserved.
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