Mr. Aciman revisits Rome, where he lived for three years as a bookish teenager, only to find that he is unable to recover any authentic memory of the city because his youthful experience of it was filtered almost entirely through literature—in this case, the short stories of James Joyce. He fondly recalls the Via Clelia mantled in snow and then corrects himself: This was the Irish snow of Joyce’s “The Dead” lending the street “a luster that would never have existed outside of books”—or in Italy. Even more frustratingly, it turns out that this trick of imagining himself elsewhere was shared by Joyce himself, so that “my love for Rome … was perhaps no more than my love for a might-be-life born from a story Joyce had penned during his hapless stay in Rome, thinking of his half-real, half-remembered Dublin.”
While this technically isn’t a landmark but a series of related landmarks in one area, it is definitely worth adding to the list. James Joyce, Ireland’s most famous author, used Dublin as an influence for much of his work[the setting for his play Exiles and for all of his fiction with the exception of Giacomo Joyce which was not published during his lifetime]. In fact, a fun [nerdy] activity for visitors of Dublin is to trace the different sites that are mentioned in his writing. [All serious Joycean scholars have done this, but most of the younger ones pretend to be above it.] For the full James Joyce experience, start at the James Joyce Center, where you can see a recreation of the writer’s bedroom [(be sure to read his love letters to Nora first to get the full effect)], then head over to the James Joyce Tower and Museum. [For a more authentic Joyce experience, borrow money that you don’t intend to pay back from your friends and younger brother, get pissed, and sleep in the gutter—or read Anna Livia Plurabelle by the Liffey, wev, it’s all the same.] Another noteworthy landmark is the House of the Dead, a small museum created in the house where Joyce spent [some of] his Christmases and is the setting in his novel [short story, though it could arguably function as a standalone novella, The] Dead.