Seemita's Reviews > Exiles

Exiles by James Joyce
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bookshelves: play, ireland, fiction, bio-autobio-memoir

The Heart flutters. Fill it to brim with love and it still flutters at the corners for freedom. Dump in a handful of greed and it continues to flutter in the remaining space for ablution. Allow peace to be its sole tenant and it still flutters at the bottom for silent passion.

What do you do of the adamant, furtive heart? One who doesn’t know bowing, doesn’t recognize rules, doesn’t believe in silence, doesn’t belong to society? What can you possibly make it understand when all the understanding roots from its depths and all the dilemmas are its doing too? Oh! You thought your mind was an experienced superior who could discipline the meek junior heart? Oh no, Sir; this little student takes no taming. It’s the only student that is forever the teacher, in essence.

Take a leaf from the genius’ mind and rectify your note. Disentangling the heart maze prove too dear for him too.

In the aptly titled Exiles , a middle-aged couple, Richard and Bertha, find their moral allegiances tested by the coyly subdued Beatrice and charmingly passionate Robert respectively. It doesn’t help that Richard and Robert are college friends and Beatrice, Robert’s cousin. Richard’s taut mind often doubles up as a fierce battleground where his morality takes on its nemesis, who creeps up from the tunnels of heart and hurls abuses, recklessly. And Bertha’s heart is in the middle of this whirlpool, armed only with its chastity which gets regularly attacked by heated waves of mercurial independence. Both are cajoled in active ways and passive, to break the pungent shackles and outpour their muted emotions. But does the societal pedestal, that has elevated them to their envious, distinguished positions, also bind them to its rigorous chains, rooted in tradition and inelasticity? Can they burrow their existence to retrieve an arm, potent enough to sever the society watch gates and impart freedom to the heart bird? Do they even know if the heart is not a migratory bird, who in its frenzy, can take them to an alien land, only to abandon it in the next season of life?

Often quoted as an attempt by Joyce to depict his own life through the thinking and conflicting Richard, this play assumes a certain autobiographical garb, which in itself becomes a fascinating journey into the mind-boggling interior alleys of one of the most revered writers we have come to know of. His Imaginative Mind vs His Belligerent Heart reinforces the age old battle of the two entities that alone navigate man, giving twopence to his own biases.

I imagine Joyce cut his heart into two, sealed each with his past and present saps and assumed the two halves would continue beating, insulated to each other’s existence. But he soon watched, dumbfounded, the saps, melting at the divide and fluttering greedily in future union. Sigh…The Heart flutters.
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Reading Progress

March 29, 2015 – Started Reading
March 29, 2015 – Shelved
April 2, 2015 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-10 of 10 (10 new)

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message 1: by PGR (last edited Apr 02, 2015 10:05PM) (new)

PGR Nair And Bertha’s heart is in the middle of this whirlpool, armed only with its chastity which gets regularly attacked by heated waves of mercurial independence. . Seems to be a case of 'to be or not to be' and perhaps it illustrates the perennial vacillation encountered in monotonous matrimony. Another delectable review coated with lingering lyricism. You are poet at heart dear Seema. Thoroughly relished this one.


message 2: by Dolors (new)

Dolors You seem to be following the trail of Joyce's works recently and I am doubtful whether I prefer your cohesive, flowing company or Joyce's fragmented genius; I think I am going to spend more time with you and your fluttering heart before I take the plunge into Joyce's universe. I was unfamiliar with this autobiographical play but found the way you presented it; the circular form of your train of thoughts, the flawless prose, the rhetorical questions and your wistful tone simply sublime, Seemita. You are a discerning reader but also a very talented writer, do not stop the review coming! :)


message 3: by Garima (new)

Garima Such a lovely poetess amidst us. Glad to be in the company of your beautiful words, Seemita. Wonderfully phrased review and like Dolors said, keep 'em coming.


message 4: by Jibran (last edited Apr 03, 2015 03:59AM) (new)

Jibran Awesome!I loved the metaphor of the heart cut in two, compartmentalized, wrongly labelled, only to solder back into a whole with the glue of future - a headstrong kid. Dil to bacha hai ji!

Seemita, the enchanting poetry of your outstanding review offsets the average rating, so I will go ahead and give it a try when I get to Joyce :)


message 5: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl I'm enjoying your Joyce journey, Seemita. From Dubliners to Exiles. What next? :)

Beautiful questions posed: "But does the societal pedestal, that has elevated them to their envious, distinguished positions, also bind them to its rigorous chains, rooted in tradition and inelasticity?"


Seemita PGR wrote: "And Bertha’s heart is in the middle of this whirlpool, armed only with its chastity which gets regularly attacked by heated waves of mercurial independence. . Seems to be a case of 'to be or not to..."

This indeed was the Shakespearian dilemma! And more than the monotonous aches of matrimony, it was an insistence of a temperamental heart which never found solace in its current state. Joyce can be such a magnificent puzzle!

The nascent poetess in me is radiant at your lovely comment, Krishnan! Thanks for the encouragement :)


Seemita Dolors wrote: "You seem to be following the trail of Joyce's works recently and I am doubtful whether I prefer your cohesive, flowing company or Joyce's fragmented genius; I think I am going to spend more time wi..."

You made my day, dear Dolors! I guess you and me should be a formidable team to take on the intricate world of Joyce, won't you say? :) I attempted to present the superfluous fluctuations of his scholarly mind in a language I know best. I am glad you found the review an able yardstick to tackle the master's work.

Ah... I will keep penning the reviews now that you have pumped me up with renewed energy! For the sheer beauty of your thoughts and warmth, a big thank you! :D


Seemita Garima wrote: "Such a lovely poetess amidst us. Glad to be in the company of your beautiful words, Seemita. Wonderfully phrased review and like Dolors said, keep 'em coming."

There are fewer things more gratifying than receiving kernels of appreciation from a friend who is a maverick with words herself! I am yet to recover from your beautiful review of "Stoner". In the greed of further flowers of praise, I assure you the reviews will keep coming!

For being here and sharing your lovely thoughts, thanks a bunch, Garima :)


message 9: by Seemita (last edited Apr 03, 2015 12:34PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Seemita Jibran wrote: "Awesome!I loved the metaphor of the heart cut in two, compartmentalized, wrongly labelled, only to solder back into a whole with the glue of future - a headstrong kid. Dil to bacha hai ji!

Seemita..."


When Mirza Ghalib said, Yeh ishq nahin asaan, bas itna samajh lijiye, ik aag ka dariya hai aur doob ke jana hai, he was probably indicating fervently to engage the heart to row across this river! :)

Ah, Joyce keeps getting second chances at the hands of his readers, isn't it? I guess the limited access I had to the mind and heart game of Joyce, despite the generous peeping in this play, tied my hands at a rating of 3. Even this play, for that matter, can be far more revealing to a keener observer than I.

I am happy that my review compensated for the missing stars and you have decided to give this play a place in your to-be-read shelf after all! Thank you for your lovely comment, Jibran :)


Seemita Cheryl wrote: "I'm enjoying your Joyce journey, Seemita. From Dubliners to Exiles. What next? :)

Beautiful questions posed: "But does the societal pedestal, that has elevated them to their envious, distinguished..."


If only I knew where the unpredictable Joyce would take me! I have now read three of his works and his diversity is incredible. A short-story collection, a poem collection and a play, all come from the same pen but with strikingly varied hues and emotions. I am tip-toeing into his fan club slowly and I am enjoying this clandestine tête-à-tête :)

For recognizing my questions as worth some weight and being here with your lovely words, thank you Cheryl! :)


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