Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Thursday, March 15, 2012

"A Rhinoceros, Some Ladies, and A Horse" by James Stephens

"A Rhinoceros, Some Ladies, and A Horse" by James Stephens (1947, 22  pages)

Irish Short Story Week Year II
March 12 to March 22

Historic Stories Day

Resources and Ideas for Irish Short Story Week

Please consider joining us for Irish Short Story Week Year Two, March 12 to March 22.   All you need do is post on one short story by an Irish author and send me a comment or an email and I will include it in the master post at the end of the challenge.  

James Stephens (1882 to 1950-Dublin) is now most read for his retelling of Irish fairy tales and myths in his Irish Fairy Tales.   He published several novels and in his day was a well known poet.   His best known novel is Crock of Gold.

Stephens began his literary career through a series of poems that appeared in a  Sinn Féin publication.    Through this he came to the attention of  George William Russell (who was sometimes known as "A. E. Russell) a leading writer, theosophist, and advocate of Irish Nationalism.   Through this contact Stephens was able to begin publishing plays and short stories.   He eventually became friends with James Joyce who at one time suggested to Stephens that he might help him complete Finnegan's Wake.   

Frank O'Connor thought  "A Rhinoceros, Some Ladies, and a Horse" warranted inclusion in his collection Classic Irish Short Stories.  It first appeared in The American Mercury magazine in 1947.  

The story is told from the point of a young boy, fifteen or so at most,  working for a theatrical agency in Dublin as an errand boy.   He seems to be on his own and he lives in a rooming house.    This was his first job ever and he loved running errands for the two men who owned the agency.   He would sit in the office when there were no errands waiting for instructions.   The most exciting thing that happened during the day was when a "musical hall lady" came into the agency.   Everybody in the office went crazy when one walked in.   Music hall ladies were kind of exempt from the strict standards of refined behavior and dress other women were expected to follow.    

The fun of the story is seeing things from the point of view of the young boy.   His encounter with a rhinoceros is hilarious and his close encounter with a music hall lady who he thinks is in love with him is really perfect.     There is a lot to be learned about how a
Dublin theatrical agency worked, how boarding house ladies exploited young residents and about the life of Dublin in this story.

You can download a number of his works here,  

I will read more by Stephens soon.

Mel u

1 comment:

HKatz said...

I've never heard of this story and the title in and of itself is entertaining. I've made note of it; thanks.

I'm reading some Joyce, and in the next few days will post something on one of his stories (most likely The Dead, which is among my favorites).