Dubliners: Text And Criticism; Revised Edition

Paperback | August 1, 1996

byJames JoyceEditorRobert Scholes, A. Walton Litz

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"Don't you think there is a certain resemblance between the mystery of the Mass and what I am trying to do?...To give people some kind of intellectual pleasure or spiritual enjoyment by converting the bread of everyday life into something that has a permanent artistic life of its own."

-- James Joyce, in a letter to his brother

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.

The text of this edition has been newly edited by Hans Walter Gabler and Walter Hettche and is followed by a new afterword, chronology, and bibliography by John S. Kelly. Also included in a special appendix are the original versions of three stories as well as Joyce's long-suppressed Preface to Dubliners.

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From Our Editors

In these masterful stories, steeped in realism, Joyce creates an exacting portrait of his native city, showing how it reflects the general decline of Irish culture and civilization. Joyce compels attention by the power of its unique vision of the world, its controlling sense of the truths of human experience.

From the Publisher

"Don't you think there is a certain resemblance between the mystery of the Mass and what I am trying to do?...To give people some kind of intellectual pleasure or spiritual enjoyment by converting the bread of everyday life into something that has a permanent artistic life of its own."-- James Joyce, in a letter to his brotherWith thes...

For many critics, James Joyce is the most important novelist of the twentieth century. He perfected the stream-of-consciousness monologue; emerged as the most inventive of the experimental novelists; was a polyglot who could pun in a dozen languages; and antagonized his friends because of his egoism, yet could write about characters un...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:512 pages, 7.7 × 5.1 × 1 inPublished:August 1, 1996Publisher:Penguin Publishing Group

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0140247742

ISBN - 13:9780140247749


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Read from the Book

THE SISTERSThere was no hope for him this time: it was the third stroke. Night after night I had passed the house (it was vacation time) and studied the lighted square of window: and night after night I had found it lighted in the same way, faintly and evenly. If he was dead, I thought, I would see the reflection of candles on the darkened blind for I knew that two candles must be set at the head of a corpse. He had often said to me: "I am not long for this world," and I had thought his words idle. Now I knew they were true. Every night as I gazed up at the window I said softly to myself the word paralysis. It had always sounded strangely in my ears, like the word gnomon in the Euclid and the word simony in the Catechism. But now it sounded to me like the name of some maleficent and sinful being. It filled me with fear, and yet I longed to be nearer to it and to look upon its deadly work.Old Cotter was sitting at the fire, smoking, when I came downstairs to supper. While my aunt was ladling out my stirabout he said, as if returning to some former remark of his: "No, I wouldn't say he was exactly . . . but there was something queer . . . there was something uncanny about him. I'll tell you my opinion. . . ." He began to puff at his pipe, no doubt arranging his opinion in his mind. Tiresome old fool! When we knew him first he used to be rather interesting, talking of faints and worms; but I soon grew tired of him and his endless stories about the distillery."I have my own theory about it," he said. "I think it was one of those . . . peculiar cases. . . . But it's hard to say. . . ." He began to puff again at his pipe without giving us his theory. My uncle saw me staring and said to me: "Well, so your old friend is gone, you'll be sorry to hear.""Who?" said I."Father Flynn.""Is he dead?""Mr. Cotter here has just told us. He was passing by the house."I knew that I was under observation so I continued eating as if the news had not interested me. My uncle explained to old Cotter."The youngster and he were great friends. The old chap taught him a great deal, mind you; and they say he had a great wish for him.""God have mercy on his soul," said my aunt piously.Old Cotter looked at me for a while. I felt that his little beady black eyes were examining me but I would not satisfy him by looking up from my plate. He returned to his pipe and finally spat rudely into the grate."I wouldn't like children of mine," he said, "to have too much to say to a man like that.""How do you mean, Mr. Cotter?" asked my aunt."What I mean is," said old Cotter, "it's bad for children. My idea is: let a young lad run about and play with young lads of his own age and not be . . . Am I right, Jack?""That's my principle, too," said my uncle. "Let him learn to box his corner. That's what I'm always saying to that Rosicrucian there: take exercise. Why, when I was a nipper every morning of my life I had a cold bath, winter and summer. And that's what stands to me now. Education is all very fine and large. . . . Mr. Cotter might take a pick of that leg of mutton," he added to my aunt."No, no, not for me," said old Cotter.My aunt brought the dish from the safe and put it on the table. "But why do you think it's not good for children, Mr. Cotter?" she asked."It's bad for children," said old Cotter, "because their minds are so impressionable. When children see things like that, you know, it has an effect..."I crammed my mouth with stirabout for fear I might give utterance to my anger. Tiresome old red-nosed imbecile!It was late when I fell asleep. Though I was angry with old Cotter for alluding to me as a child, I puzzled my head to extract meaning from his unfinished sentences. In the dark of my room I imagined that I saw again the heavy grey face of the paralytic. I drew the blankets over my head and tried to think of Christmas. But the grey face still followed me. It murmured; and I understood that it desired to confess something. I felt my soul receding into some pleasant and vicious region; and there again I found it waiting for me. It began to confess to me in a murmuring voice and I wondered why it smiled continually and why the lips were so moist with spittle. But then I remembered that it had died of paralysis and I felt that I too was smiling feebly as if to absolve the simoniac of his sin.The next morning after breakfast I went down to look at the little house in Great Britain Street. It was an unassuming shop, registered under the vague name of Drapery. The drapery consisted mainly of children's bootees and umbrellas; and on ordinary days a notice used to hang in the window, saying: Umbrellas Re-covered. No notice was visible now for the shutters were up. A crape bouquet was tied to the door-knocker with ribbon. Two poor women and a telegram boy were reading the card pinned on the crape. I also approached and read:July 1st, 1895The Rev. James Flynn (formerly of S. Catherine's Church,Meath Street), aged sixty-five years.R. I. P.The reading of the card persuaded me that he was dead and I was disturbed to find myself at check. Had he not been dead I would have gone into the little dark room behind the shop to find him sitting in his arm-chair by the fire, nearly smothered in his great-coat. Perhaps my aunt would have given me a packet of High Toast for him and this present would have roused him from his stupefied doze. It was always I who emptied the packet into his black snuff-box for his hands trembled too much to allow him to do this without spilling half the snuff about the floor. Even as he raised his large trembling hand to his nose little clouds of smoke dribbled through his fingers over the front of his coat. It may have been these constant showers of snuff which gave his ancient priestly garments their green faded look for the red handkerchief, blackened, as it always was, with the snuff-stains of a week, with which he tried to brush away the fallen grains, was quite inefficacious.I wished to go in and look at him but I had not the courage to knock. I walked away slowly along the sunny side of the street, reading all the theatrical advertisements in the shop-windows as I went. I found it strange that neither I nor the day seemed in a mourning mood and I felt even annoyed at discovering in myself a sensation of freedom as if I had been freed from something by his death. I wondered at this for, as my uncle had said the night before, he had taught me a great deal. He had studied in the Irish college in Rome and he had taught me to pronounce Latin properly. He had told me stories about the catacombs and about Napoleon Bonaparte, and he had explained to me the meaning of the different ceremonies of the Mass and of the different vestments worn by the priest. Sometimes he had amused himself by putting difficult questions to me, asking me what one should do in certain circumstances or whether such and such sins were mortal or venial or only imperfections. His questions showed me how complex and mysterious were certain institutions of the Church which I had always regarded as the simplest acts. The duties of the priest towards the Eucharist and towards the secrecy of the confessional seemed so grave to me that I wondered how anybody had ever found in himself the courage to undertake them; and I was not surprised when he told me that the fathers of the Church had written books as thick as the Post Office Directory and as closely printed as the law notices in the newspaper, elucidating all these intricate questions. Often when I thought of this I could make no answer or only a very foolish and halting one upon which he used to smile and nod his head twice or thrice. Sometimes he used to put me through the responses of the Mass which he had made me learn by heart; and, as I pattered, he used to smile pensively and nod his head, now and then pushing huge pinches of snuff up each nostril alternately. When he smiled he used to uncover his big discoloured teeth and let his tongue lie upon his lower lip--a habit which had made me feel uneasy in the beginning of our acquaintance before I knew him well.As I walked along in the sun I remembered old Cotter's words and tried to remember what had happened afterwards in the dream. I remembered that I had noticed long velvet curtains and a swinging lamp of antique fashion. I felt that I had been very far away, in some land where the customs were strange--in Persia, I thought. . . . But I could not remember the end of the dream.In the evening my aunt took me with her to visit the house of mourning. It was after sunset; but the window-panes of the houses that looked to the west reflected the tawny gold of a great bank of clouds. Nannie received us in the hall; and, as it would have been unseemly to have shouted at her, my aunt shook hands with her for all. The old woman pointed upwards interrogatively and, on my aunt's nodding, proceeded to toil up the narrow staircase before us, her bowed head being scarcely above the level of the banister-rail. At the first landing she stopped and beckoned us forward encouragingly towards the open door of the dead-room. My aunt went in and the old woman, seeing that I hesitated to enter, began to beckon to me again repeatedly with her hand.I went in on tiptoe. The room through the lace end of the blind was suffused with dusky golden light amid which the candles looked like pale thin flames. He had been coffined. Nannie gave the lead and we three knelt down at the foot of the bed. I pretended to pray but I could not gather my thoughts because the old woman's mutterings distracted me. I noticed how clumsily her skirt was hooked at the back and how the heels of her cloth boots were trodden down all to one side. The fancy came to me that the old priest was smiling as he lay there in his coffin.But no. When we rose and went up to the head of the bed I saw that he was not smiling. There he lay, solemn and copious, vested as for the altar, his large hands loosely retaining a chalice. His face was very truculent, grey and massive, with black cavernous nostrils and circled by a scanty white fur. There was a heavy odour in the room--the flowers.We crossed ourselves and came away. In the little room downstairs we found Eliza seated in his arm-chair in state. I groped my way towards my usual chair in the corner while Nannie went to the sideboard and brought out a decanter of sherry and some wine-glasses. She set these on the table and invited us to take a little glass of wine. Then, at her sister's bidding, she filled out the sherry into the glasses and passed them to us. She pressed me to take some cream crackers also but I declined because I thought I would make too much noise eating them. She seemed to be somewhat disappointed at my refusal and went over quietly to the sofa where she sat down behind her sister. No one spoke: we all gazed at the empty fireplace.My aunt waited until Eliza sighed and then said: "Ah, well, he's gone to a better world."Eliza sighed again and bowed her head in assent. My aunt fingered the stem of her wine-glass before sipping a little. "Did he . . . peacefully?" she asked."Oh, quite peacefully, ma'am," said Eliza. "You couldn't tell when the breath went out of him. He had a beautiful death, God be praised.""And everything . . . ?""Father O'Rourke was in with him a Tuesday and anointed him and prepared him and all.""He knew then?""He was quite resigned.""He looks quite resigned," said my aunt."That's what the woman we had in to wash him said. She said he just looked as if he was asleep, he looked that peaceful and resigned. No one would think he'd make such a beautiful corpse.""Yes, indeed," said my aunt.She sipped a little more from her glass and said:"Well, Miss Flynn, at any rate it must be a great comfort for you to know that you did all you could for him. You were both very kind to him, I must say."Eliza smoothed her dress over her knees."Ah, poor James!" she said. "God knows we done all we could, as poor as we are--we wouldn't see him want anything while he was in it."Nannie had leaned her head against the sofa-pillow and seemed about to fall asleep."There's poor Nannie," said Eliza, looking at her, "she's wore out. All the work we had, she and me, getting in the woman to wash him and then laying him out and then the coffin and then arranging about the Mass in the chapel. Only for Father O'Rourke I don't know what we'd done at all. It was him brought us all them flowers and them two candlesticks out of the chapel and wrote out the notice for the Freeman's General and took charge of all the papers for the cemetery and poor James's insurance.""Wasn't that gooda of him?" said my aunt.Eliza closed her eyes and shook her head slowly. "Ah, there's no friends like the old friends," she said, "when all is said and done, no friends that a body can trust.""Indeed, that's true," said my aunt. "And I'm sure now that he's gone to his eternal reward he won't forget you and all your kindness to him.""Ah, poor James!" said Eliza. "He was no great trouble to us. You wouldn't hear him in the house any more than now. Still, I know he's gone and all to that. . . .""It's when it's all over that you'll miss him," said my aunt."I know that," said Eliza. "I won't be bringing him in his cup of beef-tea any more, nor you, ma'am, sending him his snuff. Ah, poor James!"She stopped, as if she were communing with the past, and then said shrewdly:"Mind you, I noticed there was something queer coming over him latterly. Whenever I'd bring in his soup to him there I'd find him with his breviary fallen to the floor, lying back in the chair and his mouth open."

Table of Contents

DublinersEditor's Preface
I. The Text
The Sisters
An Encounter
After the Race
Two Gallants
The Boarding House
A Little Cloud
A Painful Case
Ivy Day in the Committee Room
A Mother
The Dead

A Note on the Text

II. The Author and His Work
Facsimile Pages from "A Painful Case"
The Composition and Revision of the Stories
Epiphanies and Epicleti
The Evidence of the Letters

III. Criticism
Editors' Introduction to Criticism Section
FRANK O'CONNOR, Work in Progress
HARRY STONE, "Araby" and the Writings of James Joyce
A. WALTON LITZ, "Two Gallants"
ROBERT SCHOLES, "Counterparts" and the Method of Dubliners
JANE E. MILLER, "'O, she's a nice lady!'": A Rereading of "A Mother"
RICHARD ELLMANN, The Backgrounds of "The Dead"
ALLEN TATE, "The Dead"
KENNETH BURKE, "Stages" in "The Dead"
C. C. LOOMIS, JR., Structure and Sympathy in Joyce's "The Dead"
BRUCE AVERY, Distant Music: Sound and the Dialogics of Satire in "The Dead"
MICHAEL LEVENSON, Living History in "The Dead"

Topics for Discussion and Papers
Selected Bibliography
Notes to the Stories

Bookclub Guide

INTRODUCTIONIn 1914, the same year that The Egoist began to serialize James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Joyce published another kind of portrait—Dubliners, a collection of fifteen short stories. In its representation of what one character calls "Dear dirty Dublin," the book is not only a picture of the city of Joyce's youth, it is also an illustration of the contrary impulses of the exiled artist. What is dear in Dublin stands in Joyce's vision alongside the dirty, and Joyce's tour of the city spares us nothing. The same "glow of a late autumn sunset" that covers green and lush walks also "cast[s] a shower of kindly golden dust on the untidy nurses and decrepit old men" (p. 65). Joyce is as likely to describe a man passed out in a pub bathroom as lamplight falling on the curve of a girl's neck.In the story "A Little Cloud," Gallaher, who is returning from London, designates Dublin as both "dear " and "dirty." Like Joyce, Gallaher brings an outsider's perspective to the city, raising the question of whether clarity and objectivity are best attained from a distance. Joyce left Dublin in 1904, frustrated with the oppressive twin forces of religion and politics that paralyzed the soul of the city. He called Dubliners a "chapter in the moral history of my country." Despite his confession in a letter that "the odour of ashpits and old weeds and offal hangs round my stories," these are not the bitter tales of an exiled writer seeking revenge against the city that threatened to stifle his creative talents. Instead, the irony, the anger, and the heartbreak found in these stories express as much affection as critique. While Joyce clearly denounces Farrington's violence in "Counterparts," in "The Dead" he depicts a complicated marriage filled with secrets, but also with love. Because it intermingles hope and despair, Dubliners cannot be reduced to an unequivocal statement about the city and its dwellers.A number of phrases in Dubliners suggest the narrowness and limits against which the characters struggle. An ever present "channel of poverty and inaction" (p. 35) often leads to a life of "commonplace sacrifices closing in final craziness" (p. 33). In many of the stories, husbands feel "savage and thirsty and revengeful" (p. 88), while wives "after a quarter of a century of married life [have] very few illusions left" (p. 156). Trapped by alcoholism, sexual repression, and poverty, Joyce's citizens cannot summon Gallaher's energy to "revolt against the dull inelegance" of the city (p. 68). When characters make an effort to escape their conditions, they often end up in prisons of their own making. This kind of dead end is best illustrated by the fact that the book is framed by the death of a priest in the first story, and the death of a childhood sweetheart in the last.Joyce establishes the thematic significance of paralysis on the very first page: "Every night as I gazed up at the window I said softly to myself the word paralysis" (p. 1). From Eveline's hesitation about running away with her lover to Bob Doran's entrapment in marriage, Joyce's characters usually are incapable of taking decisive action to improve their lives. At the conclusion of these stories, we are often left wondering how much of a character's plight is due to the milieu Joyce so specifically illuminates and how much is due to human qualities that transcend environment. Faced with religious intolerance and political inefficacy, it might be far easier to submit to paralysis than to fight a losing battle like that of Mrs. Kearney in "A Mother."However, Joyce's portrait of Dublin is not entirely bleak. The sympathy he shows for Stephen Dedalus as well as Leopold and Molly Bloom in Ulysses finds its beginnings in Dubliners. Joyce could simply have condemned Dublin, as Gallaher does, or followed the example of Duffy, who, in "A Painful Case," seeks refuge in brittle, lonely seclusion. But Joyce chose the more challenging course of grappling with the inherent ambivalence of exile, confronting and accepting the loss of the "dear" in "dirty Dublin."To present this range of feeling and attitude, Joyce casts a wide net, arranging the stories so they move from childhood to adulthood and from public to private. In his thoroughness, Joyce is as tender as he is fierce. The first Dubliners we meet are curious children hungry for adventure and love. There are young boys with romantic visions of chivalry and young women longing to escape. While youthful dreams quickly fade for the adults in later stories, Joyce shows us that their defeat is not unavoidable. Characters like Mr. Kernan in "Grace" and Farrington in "Counterparts" help to create their own despair. But Joyce's focus on community calls us, in turn, to ask what strength we can find together in the places we call home. Moreover, Joyce invigorates Dublin with the poetry of his prose, "falling faintly . . . and faintly falling" (p. 225), like the snow at the end of "The Dead," upon all of the city's inhabitants, elevating their condition by virtue of his art.ABOUT JAMES JOYCEJames Joyce was born on February 2, 1882, in a suburb of Dublin. He was one of twelve children raised in poverty by a father who wasted the family fortunes and a mother who died at the age of forty-four. At the age of six, Joyce was sent to a Jesuit boarding school, Clongowes Wood College. In 1902, he graduated from University College in Dublin, where he studied foreign languages and philosophy.Immediately after graduation, Joyce left Dublin to study medicine in Paris, but he returned to Ireland in 1903 to see his dying mother. In June 1904 he met his future wife, Nora Barnacle, and they moved to Trieste and then Zurich, where he taught languages at the Berlitz school. They had two children—Giorgio, born in 1905, and Lucia, born in 1907.Joyce's first major work, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, a novel published in serial form beginning in 1914, established his literary reputation. The book was groundbreaking in its form, depicting the growth of an Irish Catholic boy solely through the consciousness of the narrator. Joyce also published a collection of short stories, Dubliners, that same year, and began work on what many critics consider his crowning achievement, Ulysses. Finally published in 1922, Ulyssesearned Joyce charges of obscenity and did not appear in an American edition until 1934. The novel, which loosely follows the structure of Homer's Odyssey, traces one day in the lives of Stephen Dedalus, the hero of Portrait, and Leopold and Molly Bloom, a Dublin couple. Encyclopedic in both its use of narrative techniques and its attention to the details of everyday life,Ulysses redefined the novel as a genre. In 1939, Joyce completed his last book, Finnegans Wake, a radical, extravagant experiment in language and narrative. Joyce died in Zurich in 1941.DISCUSSION QUESTIONSIn what ways are characters in Dubliners paralyzed? What forces render them unable to act? Is "Araby" a conventional love story? At the end of "Araby," why does the narrator say his eyes "burned with anguish and anger" (p. 28)? In "Eveline," why doesn't Eveline run away with Frank? What does Joyce mean in "After the Race" when he describes Dublin as a city that wears "the mask of a capital" (p. 39)? How would you describe the relationship between Corley and Lenehan in "Two Gallants"? What is the significance of the small gold coin Corley is holding at the end of "Two Gallants"? In "The Boarding House," why does Bob Doran feel compelled to marry Polly? In "Counterparts," why is Farrington so angry? In "A Painful Case," why does James Duffy resist his passion for Emily? What is the significance of the poem Mr. Hynes recites near the end of "Ivy Day in the Committee Room"? In "The Dead," the narrator describes Gretta listening to music on the stairs as "a symbol of something" (p. 211). Is Gretta a symbol of anything? And, if so, of what? Once Gretta falls asleep after telling Gabriel about Michael Furey, why does Gabriel feel so alienated from her?FOR FURTHER REFLECTIONTo what extent does one's birthplace determine one's identity or destiny? Is individual freedom inevitably limited by the social customs of a particular place?RELATED TITLESSherwood Anderson, Winesburg, Ohio (1919)A collection of interconnected stories, this highly influential work portrays life in small-town America as alternately strange, desperate, and joyful.Ernest Hemingway, In Our Time (1925)The author's first book of stories launched his career as a master of minimalist style with a keen eye for realistic detail.Henrik Ibsen, Hedda Gabler (1890)A strong influence on Joyce, Ibsen portrays the clash between aristocratic and bourgeois values in a drama centering on a woman's tragic quest for individual freedom.Edna O'Brien, Lantern Slides (1990)This collection of twelve stories set in Ireland and England explores the spiritual confinements of provincial life.William Trevor, The Collected Stories (1992)One of the great Irish prose writers of the twentieth century, Trevor sets many of his stories in the Irish countryside and small towns as he examines themes of pain, defeat, and love.

From Our Editors

In these masterful stories, steeped in realism, Joyce creates an exacting portrait of his native city, showing how it reflects the general decline of Irish culture and civilization. Joyce compels attention by the power of its unique vision of the world, its controlling sense of the truths of human experience.

Editorial Reviews

“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 CriticismWith an Introduction by John Kelly