This weekend I've been fortunate enough to have the chance to visit Dublin. Among the things this town is known for are the many writers who lived and worked here.
Today I visited Trinity College, site of the famous Book of Kells. I decided to get a guided tour. Our guide was a student at the college who is about to begin his doctorate. He offered an insider's view to the college and was quick to share little nuggets of color that might not show up in the normal commentary. But among his bonnes mots about the school, he also made it clear that he'd gotten a fine education here and that this was a place that really cared about the written word. Proof positive was offered in the Book of Kells exhibit in the old library. The Book of Kells is a remarkably crafted books using the colors and tools available for hand printing in the period about 800 A.D. Like most literary work of the time, it came out of the monasteries. The use of color and style in creating individual letters, some which took up a full page, is nearly incomprehensible in this day of the quick read.
Then, upstairs, we saw the actual work of the institution, a library with copies of many texts written over the last 12 centuries. It struck me then -- the entire library was a celebration of the book.
As an aspiring fiction writer myself, it was pleasing to see how much Dublin talks about the writers who lived here, people like James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, Johnathan Swift and Samuel Beckett. Wilde, Swift and Beckett actually attended Trinity College. On my walking tour the day before, I saw the same thing -- lots of information about these writers and their lives in Dublin.
For example, here is the most irreverent statue I've ever seen of a literary figure, Oscar Wilde. Given Wilde's disdain for conventions, I think he'd love the way that he is portrayed here.
A little later on this day, I stepped on the edge of the O'Connell Street bridge and found I'd been preceded. At my feet was a bronze plaque, noting that Steven from Ulysses had stepped on this very spot in that novel. Walking in the footsteps of our literary predecessors -- yes, I like that.