by James Joyce | Grades: 9-12 | Ages: 14+ | Lexile Level: 900
About Dubliners by James Joyce
James Joyce has been hailed as one of the great literary rebels of our time. He rebelled against social and literary conventions, against Catholicism, and against Dublin, the city at the center of this magnificent collection of stories.
With these fifteen stories James Joyce reinvented the art of fiction, using a scrupulous, deadpan realism to convey truths that were at once blasphemous and sacramental. Whether writing about the death of a fallen priest ("The Sisters"), the petty sexual and fiscal machinations of "Two Gallants," or of the Christmas party at which an uprooted intellectual discovers just how little he really knows about his wife ("The Dead"), Joyce takes narrative places it had never been before.
"Dubliners" was completed in 1905, but a series of British and Irish publishers and printers found it offensive and immoral, and it was suppressed. The book finally came out in London in 1914, just as Joyce's "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" began to appear in the journal "Egoist" under the auspices of Ezra Pound. The first three stories in "Dubliners" might be incidents from a draft of "Portrait of the Artist," and many of the characters who figure in "Ulysses" have their first appearance here, but this is not a book of interest only because of its relationship to Joyce's life and mature work. It is one of the greatest story collections in the English language--an unflinching, brilliant, often tragic portrait of early twentieth-century Dublin. The book, which begins and ends with a death, moves from "stories of my childhood" through tales of public life. Its larger purpose, Joyce said, was as a moral history of Ireland.
"In Dubliners, Joyce's first attempt to register in language and fictive form the protean complexities of the 'reality of experience, ' he learns the paradoxical lesson that only through the most rigorous economy, only by concentrating on the minutest of particulars, can he have any hope of engaging with the immensity of the world."- from the Introduction
"Joyce renews our apprehension of reality, strengthens our sympathy with our fellow creatures, and leaves us in awe before the mystery of created things." - Atlantic Monthly
"It is in the prose of Dubliners that we first hear the authentic rhythms of Joyce the poet... Dubliners is, in a very real sense, the foundation of Joyce's art. In shaping its stories, he developed that mastery of naturalistic detail and symbolic design which is the hallmark of his mature fiction." -Robert Scholes and A. Walton Litz, authors of Dubliners: Text and Criticism
A Biographical Note About James Joyce
Irish novelist, poet, and short-story writer James Joyce (1882-1941) ranks among the giants of 20th-century literature. His experimental narrative techniques opened a new world of storytelling that continues to influence modern writers.