|Publisher||Grant Richards Ltd., London|
|LC Class||PR6019.O9 D8 1991|
|Followed by||A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Dubliners is a collection of fifteen short stories by James Joyce, first published in 1914. 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. 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.
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.
- “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 a middle-aged 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.
James Augustine Aloysius Joyce (2 February 1882 – 13 January 1941) was an Irish novelist, short story writer, and poet. He contributed to the modernist avant-garde and is regarded as one of the most influential and important authors of the 20th century. Joyce is best known for Ulysses (1922), a landmark work in which the episodes of Homer’s Odyssey are paralleled in a variety of literary styles, most famously stream of consciousness. Other well-known works are the short-story collection Dubliners (1914), and the novels A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916) and Finnegans Wake(1939). His other writings include three books of poetry, a play, his published letters and occasional journalism.
Joyce was born in 41 Brighton Square, Rathgar, Dublin, into a middle-class family. A brilliant student, he briefly attended the Christian Brothers-run O’Connell School before excelling at the Jesuit schools Clongowes and Belvedere, despite the chaotic family life imposed by his father’s alcoholism and unpredictable finances. He went on to attend University College Dublin.
In 1904, in his early twenties, Joyce emigrated to continental Europe with his partner (and later wife) Nora Barnacle. They lived in Trieste, Paris, and Zurich. Although most of his adult life was spent abroad, Joyce’s fictional universe centres on Dublin, and is populated largely by characters who closely resemble family members, enemies and friends from his time there. Ulysses in particular is set with precision in the streets and alleyways of the city. Shortly after the publication of Ulysses, he elucidated this preoccupation somewhat, saying, “For myself, I always write about Dublin, because if I can get to the heart of Dublin I can get to the heart of all the cities of the world. In the particular is contained the universal.”