Publication Date: March 1, 1990
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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.
In Dubliners, Joyce paints vivid portraits of the denizens of the city of his birth, from the young boy encountering death in the fist story, “The Sisters,” to the middle-aged Gabriel of the haunting final story, “The Dead.” This collection is both unflinchingly realistic portrait of “dear dirty Dublin” and, as Joyce himself explained, a window through which his countrymen could get “one good look at themselves.”
James Joyce, the twentieth century’s most influential novelist, was born in Dublin on February 2, 1882. The oldest of ten children, he grew up in a family that went from prosperity to penury because of his father’s wastrel behavior. After receiving a rigorous Jesuit education, twenty-year-old Joyce renounced his Catholicism and left Dublin in 1902 to spend most of his life as a writer in exile in Paris, Trieste, Rome, and Zurich. On one trip back to Ireland, he fell in love with the now famous Nora Barnacle on June 16, the day he later chose as “Bloomsday” in his novel Ulysses. Nara was an uneducated Galway girl who became his lifelong companion an the mother of his two children. In debt and drinking heavily, Joyce lived for thirty-six years on the Continent, supporting himself first by teaching jobs, then trough the patronage of Mrs. Harold McCormick (Edith Rockerfeller) and the English feminist and editor Harriet Shaw Weaver. His writings include Chamber music (1907), Dubliners (1914), A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916), Exiles (1918), Ulysses (1922), Poems Penyeach (1927), Finnegans Wake (1939), and an early draft of A Portrait of a Young Man, Stephan Hero (1944). Ulysses required seven years to complete, and his masterpiece, Finnegans Wake, took seventeen. Both works revolutionized the form, structure, and content of the novel. Joyce died in Zurich in 1941.
“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