Dubliners is a collection of fifteen short stories by James Joyce, first published in 1914.[1] They form a naturalistic depiction of Irish middle class life in and around Dublin in the early years of the 20th century.

The stories were written when Irish nationalism was at its peak, and a search for a national identity and purpose was raging; at a crossroads of history and culture, Ireland was jolted by various converging ideas and influences. They centre on Joyce's idea of an epiphany: a moment where a character experiences a life-changing self-understanding or illumination. Many of the characters in Dubliners later appear in minor roles in Joyce's novel Ulysses.[2] The initial stories in the collection are narrated by child protagonists, and as the stories continue, they deal with the lives and concerns of progressively older people. This is in line with Joyce's tripartite division of the collection into childhood, adolescence and maturity.

Publication history

Between 1905, when Joyce first sent a manuscript to a publisher, and 1914, when the book was finally published, Joyce submitted the book 18 times to a total of 15 publishers. The book's publishing history is a harrowing tale of persistence in the face of frustration. The London house of Grant Richards agreed to publish it in 1905. Its printer, however, refused to set one of the stories ("Two Gallants"), and Richards then began to press Joyce to remove a number of other passages that he claimed the printer also refused to set. Joyce protested, but eventually did agree to some of the requested changes. Richards eventually backed out of the deal. Joyce thereupon resubmitted the manuscript to other publishers, and about three years later (1909) he found a willing candidate in Maunsel & Roberts of Dublin. Yet, a similar controversy developed and Maunsel too refused to publish it, even threatening to sue Joyce for printing costs already incurred. Joyce offered to pay the printing costs himself if the sheets were turned over to him and he was allowed to complete the job elsewhere and distribute the book, but when Joyce arrived at the printers they refused to surrender the sheets. They burned them the next day. Joyce managed to save one copy, which he obtained "by ruse". He then returned to submitting the manuscript to other publishers, and in 1914 Grant Richards once again agreed to publish the book, using the page proofs saved from Maunsel as copy.[3]

The stories
  • "The Sisters" – After the priest Father Flynn dies, a young boy who was close to him and his family deals with his death superficially.
  • "An Encounter" – Two schoolboys playing truant encounter an elderly man.
  • "Araby" – A boy falls in love with the sister of his friend, but fails in his quest to buy her a worthy gift from the Araby bazaar.
  • "Eveline" – A young woman weighs her decision to flee Ireland with a sailor.
  • "After the Race" – College student Jimmy Doyle tries to fit in with his wealthy friends.
  • "Two Gallants" – Two con men, Lenehan and Corley, find a maid who is willing to steal from her employer.
  • "The Boarding House" – Mrs Mooney successfully manoeuvres her daughter Polly into an upwardly mobile marriage with her lodger Mr Doran.
  • "A Little Cloud" – Little Chandler's dinner with his old friend Ignatius Gallaher casts fresh light on his own failed literary dreams. The story also reflects on Chandler's mood upon realising that his baby son has replaced him as the centre of his wife's affections.
  • "Counterparts" – Farrington, a lumbering alcoholic scrivener, takes out his frustration in pubs and on his son Tom.
  • "Clay" – The old maid Maria, a laundress, celebrates Halloween with her former foster child Joe Donnelly and his family.
  • "A Painful Case" – Mr Duffy rebuffs Mrs Sinico, then, four years later, realises that he has condemned her to loneliness and death.
  • "Ivy Day in the Committee Room" – Minor politicians fail to live up to the memory of Charles Stewart Parnell.
  • "A Mother" – Mrs Kearney tries to win a place of pride for her daughter, Kathleen, in the Irish cultural movement, by starring her in a series of concerts, but ultimately fails.
  • "Grace" – After Mr Kernan injures himself falling down the stairs in a bar, his friends try to reform him through Catholicism.
  • "The Dead" – Gabriel Conroy attends a party, and later, as he speaks with his wife, has an epiphany about the nature of life and death. At 15–16,000 words this story has also been classified as a novella. The Dead was adapted into a film by John Huston, written for the screen by his son Tony and starring his daughter Anjelica as Mrs. Conroy.

When discussing Joyce's Dubliners, there are two types of critics that are often at the forefront of the conversation: the "Realists" and the "Symbolists". The Realists view Dubliners as the most simple of Joyce's works, which often causes them to disregard the revolutionary nature of the work. The symbolists instead neglect the rebellious meanings behind Joyce's symbols. While some choose only one side to argue, others believe that Dubliners completely defies any form of characterization. Without any clear evidence of thematic unity, logic of plot, or closure, Joyce prevents any conclusive critical analysis.[4] As Sonja Bašić argues, the book "should be seen not just as a realist/naturalist masterpiece, but as a significant stepping- stone integrated into the modernist structure of Joyce's mature work."[4]

It has been argued that the narrators in Dubliners rarely mediate, which means that there are limited descriptions of their thoughts and emotions, a practice said to accompany narratorial invisibility where the narrator sees instead of tells. While some point to Joyce's use of free indirect discourse as a way to understand his characters, he often obscures the reliability of his characters in a way that would make any kind of analysis very difficult.[4] As Richard Ellmann has argued, "Joyce claims importance by claiming nothing"[5] His characters' personalities can only be observed because they are not explicitly told.

The collection as a whole displays an overall plan, beginning with stories of youth and progressing in age to culminate in The Dead. Great emphasis is laid upon the specific geographic details of Dublin, details to which a reader with a knowledge of the area would be able to directly relate. The multiple perspectives presented throughout the collection serve to compare the characters and people in Dublin at this time.

Media adaptations
  • Hugh Leonard adapted six stories as Dublin One which was staged at the Gate Theatre, Dublin, in 1963.[6]
  • John Huston's film production of The Dead was released in 1987 .
  • In October 1998, BBC Radio 4 broadcast dramatizations by various writers of A Painful Case, After the Race, Two Gallants, The Boarding House, A Little Cloud, and Counterparts. The series ended with a dramatization of The Dead, which was first broadcast in 1994 under the title 'Distant Music'. These were accompanied by nighttime abridged readings, starting with Ivy Day in the Committee Room (in two parts, read by T P McKenna), followed by The Sisters, An Encounter, Araby, Eveline, and Clay, all read by Barry McGovern.
  • In 1999 a short film adaptation of Araby was produced and directed by Dennis Courtney.[7]
  • In 2000, a Tony Award-winning musical adaptation of The Dead was written by Richard Nelson and Shaun Davey, directed by Richard Nelson.
  • In April 2012, Stephen Rea read The Dead on RTÉ Radio 1.[8]
  • In February 2014, Stephen Rea read all fifteen stories spread across twenty 13-minute segments of Book at Bedtime on BBC Radio 4.
  • In June 2014, WNYC's The Greene Space premiered Dubliners – an audio play suite written and directed by Arthur Yorinks based on Araby, Eveline, Clay, and The Dead.
  • In July 2014, Irish actor Carl Finnegan released a modern retelling of Two Gallants as a short film which he co-wrote with Darren McGrath. Carl Finnegan also produced, directed and performed the role of Corley in the film.[9]
  • In February 2017, a short film adaptation of The Sisters was written & directed by Matthew Eberle[10]
  1. ^ Osteen, Mark (1995-06-22). "A Splendid Bazaar: The Shopper's Guide to the New Dubliners". Studies in Short Fiction.  |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  2. ^ Michael Groden. "Notes on James Joyce's Ulysses". The University of Western Ontario. Archived from the original on 1 November 2005. 
  3. ^ Jeri Johnson, "Composition and Publication History", in James Joyce, Dubliners (Oxford University Press, 2000).
  4. ^ a b c Mosher, Harold Frederick; Bosinelli Bollettieri, Rosa Marie (1998). ReJoycing : New Readings of Dubliners. Lexington, KY: The University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 9780813120577. 
  5. ^ Ellmann, Richard (1959). James Joyce. Oxford University Press. 
  6. ^ "PlayographyIreland – Dublin One". irishplayography.com
  7. ^ Alan Warren Friedman (2007). Party pieces: oral storytelling and social performance in Joyce and Beckett. Syracuse University Press. p. 232. 
  8. ^ "Rea reads The Dead on RTÉ Radio". RTÉ Ten. Raidió Teilifís Éireann. 2 April 2012. Retrieved 2 April 2012. 
  9. ^ "New film to mark 'Dubliners' centenary". Irish Times
  10. ^ James Joyce's the Sisters (2017), retrieved 2017-05-08 
Further reading
  • Ellmann, Richard. James Joyce. Oxford University Press, 1959, revised edition 1983.
  • Burgess, Anthony. Here Comes Everybody: An Introduction to James Joyce for the Ordinary Reader (1965); also published as Re Joyce.
  • Burgess, Anthony. Joysprick: An Introduction to the Language of James Joyce (1973)
  • Benstock, Bernard. Narrative Con/Texts in Dubliners. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994. ISBN 978-0-252-02059-9.
  • Bloom, Harold. James Joyce's Dubliners. New York: Chelsea House, 1988. ISBN 978-1-55546-019-8.
  • Bosinelli Bollettieri, Rosa Maria and Harold Frederick Mosher, eds. ReJoycing: New Readings of Dubliners. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1998. ISBN 978-0-8131-2057-7.
  • Frawley, Oona. A New & Complex Sensation: Essays on Joyce's Dubliners. Dublin: Lilliput, 2004. ISBN 978-1-84351-051-2.
  • Hart, Clive. James Joyce's Dubliners: Critical Essays. London: Faber, 1969. ISBN 978-0-571-08801-0.
  • Ingersoll, Earl G. Engendered Trope in Joyce's Dubliners. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 1996. ISBN 978-0-8093-2016-5.
  • Norris, Margot, ed. Dubliners: Authoritative Text, Contexts, Criticism. New York: Norton, 2006. ISBN 0-393-97851-6.
  • Thacker, Andrew, ed. Dubliners: James Joyce. New Casebook Series. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006. ISBN 978-0-333-77770-1.
External links
  • Dubliners at Project Gutenberg
  • Spark Notes
  • Dubliners at the British Library
  • Searchable, self-referential edition of Dubliners, with concordance
  • Grant Richards Ltd, London, 1914 digitised copy of first edition from Internet Archive
  • Dubliners public domain audiobook at LibriVox
  • Realism and Detail in Dubliners

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