A definitive edition of perhaps the greatest short story collection in the English language
James Joyce’s Dubliners is a vivid and unflinching portrait of “dear dirty Dublin” at the turn of the twentieth century. These fifteen stories, including such unforgettable ones as “Araby,” “Grace,” and “The Dead,” delve into the heart of the city of Joyce’s birth, capturing the cadences of Dubliners’ speech and portraying with an almost brute realism their outer and inner lives. Dubliners is Joyce at his most accessible and most profound, and this edition is the definitive text, authorized by the Joyce estate and collated from all known proofs, manuscripts, and impressions to reflect the author’s original wishes.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
About the Author
James Joyce (1882–1941), an Irish poet and novelist, was one of the most celebrated writers of the twentieth century. His works include Ulysses, Finnegans Wake, and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.
Terence Brown (introduction and notes) is an emeritus fellow of Trinity College Dublin.
Date of Birth:February 2, 1882
Date of Death:January 13, 1941
Place of Birth:Dublin, Ireland
Place of Death:Zurich, Switzerland
Education:B.A., University College, Dublin, 1902
Read an Excerpt
There 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.
"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, 1895
The 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 ContentsDublinersIntroduction
Notes on Introduction
Note on Text
After the Race
The Boarding House
A Little Cloud
A Painful Case
Ivy Day in the Committee Room
What People are Saying About This
"Cold is the heart that can resist a warm Irish accent like Gerard Doyle's, especially when that voice is offering splendid material like this Joyce classic. . . . Heartbreaking epiphanies abound, and Doyle artfully walks the vocal line between empathy and cool efficiency with his performance." -AudioFile
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Dublin at the turn of the nineteenth century is this book's source of inspiration. Joyce here captures a sense of sadness, a sense of folly, and a sense of unsatisfaction in this collection of short stories. Fourteen were intended by Joyce for The Dubliners, and in this Bantom Books Reprint, the lyrically written, but awkwardly structured 'The Dead' has been included (it reads in two seemingly incongruent parts). My notables include 'A Mother', 'A Little Cloud', and 'Counterparts'. 'The Dead' is hailed by the literati as a great piece, and the second half of the story captures the distance that can occur in a marriage, the effects of a perceived affair on a husband and a woman's longing for what could have been if she'd married differently. This collection of stories is compulsory for any James Joyce reader, as it is a sharp contrast in style to Finnegan's Wake or Ulysses. I find the value in it, if one wants to be absolutely immersed in a different time and place, and read some passionately painful, realistic stories. The morals of these stories can be interpreted open-endedly, like most great art, and at times may be too subtle for the modern reader. One drawback to this edition. Shame on Bantam for not presenting the punctuation as Joyce intended. He originally demarcates his changed in dialogue with dashes, rather than standard quotation mark indicators. What is the point of reading the book how the author did not intend it read? Read the book, but choose an edition true to the author's intent.
Dubliners is a wonderful masterpiece that is insightful and cascades with beauty through its words splashed upon the pages. My personal favorite story is 'The Dead' which is Joyce's transition from his more simplistic writing into what will later become his stream of conciousness and deeply imbedded symbolism style of writing that we see in Ulysses. I recommend this to anyone. Some of the short stories are easier to read than others, but there shouldn't be any great trouble in any of them. Each story has its unique beauty and truth about the human race.
The Dubliners is a revelation into the dark side of human reasoning. It¿s a smashing book, when you are done with it you understand why people do stupid things, drink excessively or gamble (the reasoning behind it). This book is a benchmark in literary competence that everyone should read. I love this book because it gives the perspective of the lower class of Dublin children skipping school, alcoholics exedra. James Joyce has exceeded the expectations for word choice of the finest writers. It is a book of short, stories each chapter gives a different perspective of the same day in Dublin. James Joyce also wrote the Odyssey which by many standards is the hardest book to understand (in English) and is legendary for its complexity. The Dubliners retains all the richness and word of the Odyssey but everyone can (should) understand.
This is the second James Joyce book I have read and it goes to reinforce the feeling I had after reading the first that that writer is a great storyteller. In fact, I consider James Joyce's Dubliners as one of the best collection of short stories ever put together. The settings are amazing and the rich and lively characters all combine with the incredible plots to add credence to the stories. Not only are they true to life in fitting with the atmosphere that one finds in Dublin, the stories are also hilarious, subtle, and inspirational and gripping. The pace of the stories is fast and the voices are rich.
I had to read this book for my AP Literature class, but I ended up buying my own copy to keep notes in..and also because I liked it so much. I loved the message that Joyce was trying to portray with this novel: Dublin (and society as a whole) was stuck in a never-ending circle, paralyzed if you will, of drinking, passionless love and lives, materialism, meaningless faith, etc. I had never read something quite like this before, and I loved the creative grouping of the chapters into a timeline type thing. My favorite chapter was Evelyn. All in all, it was a pretty good read.
A GREAT book. If it were a good book it would show this dank, depressive, captivating and surreal world. Instead it emerses you in this world. Joyce's writing is so spontaneous. I despise being gushing but it is Joyce. The man is a genius. (I realise I should refer to him in the past tense but his writing seems to suspened his intellect and reality in time). He never resorts to the writing-by-numbers tecnique of presenting characters with a view to evoking sympathetic sentiments from the reader. Characters aren't pleasant so that you want to be their friend or unsuccesful/destructive/pathetic for the purpose of making the reader feel smug, successful and sensible. I can't recommend this book enough. It's an experience. One which you may find tiring and depressing but which is completely worthwhile. And compared to Finnegans Wake it's a walk in the park! Allows you to experience Joyce's writing without completely perplexing you (speaking from experience!)
Barnes and Noble needs to kick out all of the people that are posting solicitations and personal chats. This is for reviews of authors and books only.
Maximum walked in, smirking a bit.
Added this to my collection because I remember enjoying it very much as the focus of a literature course at the university in the late 1950's or early 1960s. Joyce captures the essence of every day people doing every day things. Modern Library Series has been my source for so many classics.
I can't explain why I love this book so much, but I found it incredible. Perhaps it was the simple tales about average people or the glimpses into the oddities of everyday life. In any case, the collection of quick stories is thoroughly entertaining and should be on everyone's must-read list
My mother used to call me a Jackeen. I thought at first she was calling me a Dubliner, an Anglicised city boy, which is one of its meanings and insult enough from a Culchie like her. A Culchie is someone from the Irish countryside. Keep up at the back. It turns out Jackeen also means a drunken waster, which is more probably what she meant, but the two definitions are one and the same to her I reckon.Joyce, in The Dubliners, never uses the word but there are one or two of both types of Jackeen scattered throughout the collection of short stories.The book reminds me of an Ian Dury album. He makes the ordinary extraordinary. He takes the small and mundane moments of everyday life and turns them into celebrations of existence. The stories start with tales of childhood and convey the tension and detail that consume a child¿s life perfectly and continue throughout lifetimes until the last story, The Dead, which finishes with the best piece of writing I have ever read.The perfect book to have in your pocket when waiting for someone in a pub. Preferably someone unreliable who wont turn up on time.
Joyce's other books are difficult (Portrait of an Artist) to impossible (Finnegans Wake). This one reminds me of Chekhov. Closely observed lives. . . no sentimentality, no phony psychology. I found it wonderful and wish that Joyce hadn't become such a pedant. Had he used his incredible talent to write more books people actually read, the world of literature would be the better. Instead he chose to write pedantic books for pedants.
It seems no one can leave the depression of Dublin.
A practice run for Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man and Ulysses. Some good moments, but a lot of flops; the only "great" stories are Araby, Eveline, and The Dead. Not that the others aren't enjoyable; Joyce is at his best when he has more breathing room than the short story form allows.
Enjoyed all but a couple of these stories. Dublin, the time and the characters come through fully formed. Apart from a couple - 'Ivy Day in the Committee Room' for example, though that was partly because I don't know enough the history of Irish politics. 'The Dead' is celebrated according to my edition, and it's easy to see why, though not by describing its plot. That's the strength though - it's a dinner party with dancing, nothing more dramatic than that on the surface, but there are many more stories subsumed within, and you can't help but share some of Gabriel's feelings as time goes on.
The Dead is quite the most moving love story I've ever read. For anyone who's lost someone.
I ended up liking this book by the end, despite hating it in the beginning. Joyce writes a series of short stories about the characters of Dublin - some of which feel like the end of the story was chopped off. Until I got used to the rhythm and the structure, it was hard to enjoy this book. I enjoyed some of the portraits more than others. Although it has the setting of a historical fiction, this is not the type of book I would typically like. Recommended with reservations. I read this book using DailyLit's email service.
When he wanted to, he could really write conventional fiction. Great stuff.
Dubliners is a collection of short stories about the Irish middle class. Each story is about a different person or group of people, and they are not really connected to each other in theme until you get to the last two pages of the book. At that point, you come to realize Joyce's purpose in writing this collection, and it all comes together for you.This is one of those books that I could not put down, had a profound affect on me emotionally at times, and yet, I doubt there is any one moment or character that will stick with me. In a way, that's the genius of it in that it perfectly captures the prosaic life of the middle class. In the end, one begins to lament the meaninglessness of his own life and the fact that most of our lives are not really worth telling stories about. Joyce celebrates this commonality in a moving way by telling it to us straight with little flourish, which would serve to make it maudlin. Come to think of it, I guess this book might just stick with me a little longer than I thought.
Reading Joyce is like what reading was like when you were a kid - an almost physical experience. He is so good at creating an atmosphere, you can almost smell the air of turn-of-the century Dublin as you follow his characters through their quietly unsatisfied lives. 'Dubliners', in 15 sketches of hugely different people, gives you a very profound sense of what this city (and in fact the entire country) was like at the time, suspended in limbo; clinging to tradition in a sometimes mechanical way, yet yearning to be part of a bigger world. This is most pronounced in the story 'Eveline', where a girl is torn between duties to her family and the promise of a better, happier life abroad with her sweetheart. All in all, 'Dubliners' was a great read and something I'd recommend to anyone. I really like short stories and episodic novels (Dubliners falls somewhere in between I think, because the 15 stories add up to something bigger) because they allow you to catch your breath in between. I'm still a little anxious to touch 'Ulysses', its hugeness and impenetrability being rather legendary, so 'Dubliners' was my way to dip my toe in the water. I also think Irish history and culture are very interesting, and you get a lot of that (references, so keep wikipedia at hand) as well.
Excellent collection - favorites include "The Boarding House" about a strong woman trying to marry off her beautiful daughter before she picks some ne'rdowell who wouldn't be able to support her - it's brilliant because the mother is manipulative but you don't really see any true maliciousness in her actions - something so hard to do.
What can be said of James Joyce, the son of John Joyce, that hasn¿t been said already? He was the partially blind bard of Ireland and at the same time the only heir apparent to Shakespeare himself, whose four works of prose fiction are each masterpieces, and whose ¿apocrypha¿ (by which I mean his work outside of prose fiction, including verse poetry, drama, and an early version of Portrait called Stephen Hero), if not of the high standards set otherwise, holds literary merit and esteem in its own right.Dubliners, Joyce¿s first masterpiece and only collection of short stories, carries in its pages all of the self-assured sophistication and willingness to break rules Joyce was famous for, but a much lesser degree of the ¿obscurity¿ he would pioneer in his next books and take to its fullest extent and conclusion in the dream freakout of Finnegans Wake, which would famously be called obscure by Ezra Pound, who wrote The Cantos . Dubliners is one of the greatest collections of short stories in the English language, if not the greatest collection. Centering around Joyce¿s idea of the epiphany, or moments of great reflection, introspection, or realization, each story centers on the moment when a given character¿s true self is brought out. It may be somewhat hard to understand and slow going at first, but once you catch on to what Joyce is doing ¿ I caught on about half way through ¿ then you will be hooked.¿Two Sisters¿, the first story, starts the collection on a dour note. A boy in mourning over his mentor, a priest named Flynn, isn¿t sure how to deal with the ramifications of his first brush with mortality. Spiritually connected with the last story, ¿The Dead¿, this story with its abrupt ending (mid conversation) shows that Joyce is not about to hold your hand through this collection. You¿re going to have to dig in and find the purpose of the story yourself- there is no moral help, no conventional use of plot, and no tropes, allegories, or indicators.And that¿s just the tone of the stories as they go through. The narrator doesn¿t help you with anything and the characters are left to voice themselves and moralize on their own. To give you a little more information, ¿An Encounter¿ is about two boys¿ acquaintance with an old lecherous pervert, ¿Two Gallants¿ details a couple of con men who find a maid willing to steal from her employer, ¿A Painful Case¿ is the realization of a man who rebuffs a woman that he has condemned her to a life of loneliness and isolation. These are the types of stories you can expect to find within the world of Dubliners.These are all great stories and each has its own unique, individual flavor, but the crowning jewel of the set would have to be ¿The Dead.¿ At around 15,000 words, some would consider this to be a novella, but its themes and materials are actually inextricable from the rest of the collection. It really is the consummation of all of the other stories, an intensification of what is happening throughout the rest of the book. It also breaks the most rules. First off, the story tricks the reader by starting out with a focus on one of the minor characters in the story. In fact, not only is the focus on the door maid Lily, but even her thoughts are exposed right from the beginning sentence which starts, ¿Lily, the caretaker¿s daughter, was literally run off her feet.¿ Since the story takes place in a sophisticated upper-crust party, it was obviously not the case that she was literally run off her feet. The narrator was simply using the kind of words she herself would have used to describe her situation, and so a kind of deep penetration into her thoughts was achieved.This is, of course, strange and unusual, because Lily is not the main character of the story, as I have stated. She is merely a side character. The main characters of the story are a husband and wife named Gabriel and Gretta Conroy. But this isn¿t the only act of trickery the author participates in. Even the setting is illusory as event
The most interesting thing about this collection of James Joyce short stories is not that they are accessible (in contradiction to so much of what Joyce has written); but that they are the epitome of the old cliché ¿the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.¿ That is to say, few of these stories really stand out. Yes, there are a couple of exceptions. But the majority are just okay stories. However, taken as a whole, these provide a fascinating picture of the town where they all take place. As the stories unfold, the people become more and more real, and the town takes on a shape.The intent of these stories was two-fold. The first was to stand on their own. Not all that successful. The second is to paint an overall picture, and that they do with much better success.It is said that this collection is a good introduction to Joyce. Could well be. As I say, they are quite accessible. But I can say that there is an underlying enjoyment to reading the stories that sneaks up on the reader.
Two things that struck me about these short stories. One, the writing is so vivid. Mr. Joyce focuses a tight lens on the details - and everything comes alive. Two, these stories are less stories in the sense of narrative than stories in the sense of catching a glimpse of a life - like looking through a window at a moment or two in an on-going story. The trick in this is that the window catches just that moment that tells the whole story.