Customer Reviews of Dubliners
Dubliners: 15 gem-like tales by the Dublin genius James Joyce
Irish eyes did not always smile. This is apparent as we read the 15 stories included in the Penguin edition of "Dubliners." The stories were written from 1904-07 by the young author James Joyce. The tales look in microcosm at the ordinary denizens of Dublin. Dublin was the second largest city in the British Isles and a colonial city of the Empire planted by the English.
. Along the way there is plenty of:
a. Roman Catholic guilt
b. Tawdry sexual encounters
c. The theme of escape to the east across the Irish Sea towards the mainland of England.
d A thick fog of pea soup Irish gloom. Many of the tales take place at the hour of twilight and in the dark night. Foggy streets abound as well as gaslit streets teeming with horses and carriages.
e. The fragility of human life which soon passes away into the dark beyond the portals of the grave. This theme is best observed in The Dead which completes the collection.
"The Sisters" deals with the death of a poor priest and his two sisters who care for him in the last days of his suffering life. The priest was deeply disillusioned by life. This first story dealing with death is completed by The Dead story which ends the collection. The stories have come full circle.
b. Eveline is the story of a young maid who desires to flee with a new lover away from her drab life in Dublin. Escape is a major theme in this short story.
c. "A Short Encounter" and "Araby" portray the life of an Irish Catholic schoolboy who dreams of flight from his society. These stories draw upon Joyce's Dublin days. He spent most of his life in exile from Ireland.
d. The Encounter is about young men eager to pick up girls in the streets.
e. The Boarding House concerns a girl who realizes her only path in life will lead to the marriage altar to wed a man she does not love. She like many of the characters are isolated, lonely and pitiful people seeking but not finding some escape hatch from their drab lives.
f. A Little Cloud is a bried look at a failed poet who wished to follow in the footsteps of great artists like William Butler Yeats.
g. "Clay" and "Counterpoints" limns portraits of persons who are physically and psychologically abused victims of Dublin's lower class. Joyce is unsurpassed in his use of Irish speech patterns and the give and take of dialogue.
h. "A Painful Case" A dull clerk has a platonic affair with a married woman; she is killed in an accident.
i. Ivy Day in the Committee Room-This political tale examines mediocre politicians celebrated the life of the Irish political Charles Stewart Parnell. The politics are corrupt and the lament for Parnell brought down by a tawdry affair and dying soon after is poignantly expressed in a fine poem.
j. A Mother glimpses at life on a small Dubliin stage. A woman seeks to have her daughter become a famous actress. Her efforts are frustrated.
k. Grace is good at letting the reader in on discussions concerning the need to find grace from God. Several friends seek to persuade a Roman Catholic convert to join them in a religious retreat. Booze flows in this story as in many others spun by Joyce.
l. The Dead is the most famous story in the collection. The scene is a holiday party in lower middle class surroundings. Two old sisters invite their friends for dining and dancing. The chief character is Gabriel Conroy a professor who is uncomfortable with Irish life.
This short story collection is both readable and symbolic. In it we see the genius of James Joyce in budding flower. Several of the characters will later reappear in the author's masterpiece "Ulysses."
Experience Dubliners and relilsh time spent with fascinating stories by a literary genius of the first rank.
Not just "An Original," but "THE Original"
This is the old father, the old artificer, of all 20th century short stories. Each story is a gem, and together they tell like a rosary. "The Dead," is by itself a masterpiece which resonates long after you've finished it. Dubliners is Joyce's most accessible work, readable and enjoyable without losing any of its deeper nuances.
in stores and worth perusing
I found several copies of the book, new and unused, for sale at Heffers bookstore in Cambridge, UK.
The drawings, photographs, and newspaper clippings provide a first hand sense of what Joyce's Dublin was like then. Like a mail order fountain pen, whose newspaper advertisement from Christmas 1903 is reproduced in the book. Maybe Gabriel Conroy bought one. I've never used a fountain pen - to me the advertisement is a subtle reminder of how distant Joyce's Dublin is from us now.
Warning - It's tempting to spend more time reading the notes and annotations than reading Joyce himself.
Illuminating, Overwhelming - A Masterpiece
Joyce's short story collection "Dubliners" transcends the ethos of the genre in its seemingly undramatic quality, its epiphanic climaxes, its focus on the nobodies of dreary Dublin. Indeed, Dublin becomes a microcosm for the world in these stories, and each character representative of mankind, much like Bloom's single-day experience in "Ulysses" is a microcosm of a whole lifetime.
Joyce examines specifically the paralysis of his city at the time, but on a larger scale he exposes the self-enslavement to which all human beings potentially fall subject. His heroes are not victorious, but they have been made aware. The reader is not as engrossed by what is actually happening as he is by how the character feels - and he is profoundly grateful and moved by this. No detail should be overlooked in these stories; each one quietly beholds the whole Universe.
The stories are arranged chronologically, so it is additionally rewarding to read them in order. If you'd rather pick and choose, don't miss "Araby", "Eveline", "A Little Cloud", and "The Dead", the latter being the masterpiece of the collection. Penguin Modern Classics version includes a scholarly introduction and notes on names, dates, places: informative but ancillary - read them after you've finished the stories.
My first encounter with Joyce was an English Lit. course in college, some twenty years ago now. We were assigned to read an anthologized version of "The Dead", and I initially approached it as one does all such reading requirements at that foolish age; however, this particular story ending up affecting me quite unlike anything I had ever read before. Dubliners is a beautifully written collection of thematically inter-related stories involving day to day life in early 20th century Dublin - stories that masterfully evoke what Faulkner described in his Nobel address as being the essential nature of true art: A portrayal of the human heart in conflict with itself. "The Dead" is the final story in the collection, and my favorite. I have re-read it numerous times and am so consumed by it that I'm not even able to provide an objective review. The final pages, from the point where Gabriel and Greta leave the party, to the end of the story, are absolutly stunning; the poetry of the words, the profound humanity represented - defies description. As in the final line of Rilke's "Archaic Torso of Apollo" - You must change your life.