Silver Streams Issue 3 - Page 11

with utter defeat: 13 The house, thinly peopled and silent, gave distressing prophecy of failure. Mr. Duffy, though, has the possibility to change his sterile life. The aborted romance between Mrs. Sinico and him has its birth in music: they meet at a concert, and their following encounters are characterized by the act of ​ listening ​ . She ‘urged him to let his nature open to the full; she became 14 his confessor’. The verbal openness between the two, nevertheless, is doomed to fail. Mr. Duffy rejects her encouragement to write and share his thoughts with an audience, as he scorns the literary world of his time, interestingly and quite hopelessly described as such: To compete with phrasemongers, incapable of thinking consecutively for sixty seconds? To submit himself to the criticism of an obtuse middle class which entrusted its morality to 15 policemen and its fine arts to impresarios? This could be a possible, bitter reference to the difficulties faced by Joyce in publishing his first 16 works, due to moralistic concerns raised by his publishers. The ‘impresario’ is a key figure in the musical world, mainly dealing with organization and economic issues. In ‘A Mother’, Mrs. Kearne struggles with one of these figures to get payment for her daughter, and miserably fails. The implication is clear: the musical and literary worlds share the same problems. An artist cannot be free, but must surrender to a mercenary logic, so success is often associated with moral meanness, the same ‘scrupulous meanness’ Joyce attempts to reproduce in his writing. The spiritual union between Mr. Duffy and his would-be lover is likewise presented in musical terms: thus love, pouring out from the mistress’ eyes in a Dantesque way, joins the couple, 17 experiencing perfect unity: 18 The dark discreet room, their isolation, the music that still vibrated in the ears united them. Anyway, Mr. Duffy’s joyful exaltation is promptly disturbed by the constant laboring of his thoughts: Sometimes he caught himself listening to the sound of his own voice. He thought that in her eyes he would ascend to an angelical stature […] he heard the strange impersonal voice 19 which he recognized as his own, insisting on the soul’s incurable loneliness. It is this inner voice that actually prevents him to love Mrs. Sinico, rejecting her in a series of events 20 that ultimately cause her death. Mrs. Sinico caught up his hand passionately and pressed it to her cheek. Mr. Duffy was very much surprised. Her interpretation of his words disillusioned him. 13 J. Joyce, ‘A Painful Case’, p. 161. I bid. ​ , p. 164. 15 Ibid. 16 It is only in 1914 that Grant Richards decides to publish ​ Dubliners ​ , seven years after Joyce had finished writing it. See ‘Introduction’, in ​ James Joyce: Dubliners and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, A Selection of Critical Essays ​ , pp. 15-32. 17 A possible reference to the Boethian concept of ‘music of the spheres’. See ‘The Presence of Dante in Joyce’s Fiction’, in M. T. Reynolds, ​ Joyce and Dante: The Shaping Imagination, ​ Princeton University Press (Princeton, 1981), pp. 12-32. 18 J. Joyce, ‘A Painful Case’, p. 165. 19 Ibid. 20 Ibid. 14