Dubliners by James Joyce
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, and the idea of paralysis where Joyce felt Irish nationalism stagnated cultural progression, placing Dublin at the heart of this regressive movement. 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.
A collection of fifteen short 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 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.