For the Irish folk band, see The Dubliners. For people from Dublin, Ireland, see Dublin § Demographics.

The title page of the first edition in 1914 of Dubliners.
Author James Joyce
Language English
Genre Short Story
Publisher Grant Richards Ltd., London
Publication date
June 1914
Pages 152
OCLC 23211235
823/.912 20
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.[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


In Dubliners, Joyce rarely uses hyperbole, relying on simplicity and close detail to create a realistic setting. This ties the reader's understanding of people to their environments. Additionally, Joyce's prose does not pressure characters into thinking a certain way; rather they are left to come to their own conclusions. This trait of Dubliners is even more evident when contrasted with moral judgements displayed in the works of earlier writers such as Charles Dickens. This frequently leads to a lack of traditional dramatic resolution within the stories.

It has been argued[4] that Joyce often allows his narrative voice to gravitate towards the voice of a textual character. For example, the opening line of 'The Dead' reads "Lily, the caretaker's daughter, was literally run off her feet." She is not, in this instance, "literally" run off her feet, and neither would Joyce have thought so; rather, the narrative lends itself to a use of language typical of the character being described. Joyce's use of the English language for his characters reflects what later became known as Hiberno-English that is, the English as spoken by average Dubliners and greatly influenced by the older Irish language. Joyce expounded on the subject of language and his use of it in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.[5]

Joyce often uses descriptions from the characters' point of view, although he very rarely writes in the first person. This can be seen in Eveline: "Her head was leaned against the window curtains and in her nostrils was the odour of dusty cretonne." Here, Joyce employs an empirical perspective in his description of characters and events; an understanding of characters' personalities is often gained through an analysis of their possessions. The first paragraph of A Painful Case is an example of this style, as well as Joyce's use of global to local description of the character's possessions. Joyce also employs parodies of other writing styles; part of A Painful Case is written as a newspaper story, and part of Grace is written as a sermon. This stylistic motif may also be seen in Ulysses (for example, in the Aeolus episode, which is written in a newspaper style), and is indicative of a sort of blending of narrative with textual circumstances.

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


  1. Osteen, Mark (1995-06-22). "A Splendid Bazaar: The Shopper's Guide to the New Dubliners.". Studies in Short Fiction.
  2. Michael Groden. "Notes on James Joyce's Ulysses". The University of Western Ontario.
  3. Jeri Johnson, "Composition and Publication History", in James Joyce, Dubliners (Oxford University Press, 2000).
  4. Hugh Kenner (1979). Joyce's Voices. University of California Press.
  5. http://lal.sagepub.com/content/22/1/32.abstract
  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.

Further reading


External links

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