Book Title: Dubliners

Author: James Joyce

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Book Description: Written when Ireland was struggling to define a modern identity, at a crossroads of history and culture, "Dubliners" focuses on the personal experience wider politics. Central to Joyce's writing is the epiphany: a moment where a character experiences self-understanding or illumination.

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Joyce’s writing in Dubliners is neutral; he rarely uses hyperbole or emotive language, relying on simplicity and close detail to create a realistic setting. This ties the reader’s understanding of people to their environments. He does not tell the reader what to think, rather they are left to come to their own conclusions; this is evident when contrasted with the moral judgements displayed by earlier writers such as Charles Dickens. This frequently leads to a lack of traditional dramatic resolution within the stories. It has been argued (by Hugh Kenner in Joyce’s Voices, among others)[3] that Joyce often allows his narrative voice to gravitate towards the voice of a textual character. For example, the opening line of ‘The Dead’ reads “Lily, the caretaker’s daughter, was literally run off her feet.” She is not, in this instance, “literally” run off her feet, and neither would Joyce have thought so; rather, the narrative lends itself to a misuse of language typical of the character being described. Joyce often uses descriptions from the characters’ point of view, although he very rarely writes in the first person. This can be seen in Eveline, when Joyce writes, “Her head was leaned against the window curtains and in her nostrils was the odour of dusty cretonne”. Here, Joyce employs an empirical perspective in his description of characters and events; an understanding of characters’ personalities is often gained through an analysis of their possessions. The first paragraph of A Painful Case is an example of this style, as well as Joyce’s use of global to local description of the character’s possessions. Joyce also employs parodies of other writing styles; part of A Painful Case is written as a newspaper story, and part of Grace is written as a sermon. This stylistic motif may also be seen in Ulysses (for example, in the Aeolus episode, which is written in a newspaper style), and is indicative of a sort of blending of narrative with textual circumstances. The collection as a whole displays an overall plan, beginning with stories of youth and progressing in age to culminate in The Dead. Great emphasis is laid upon the specific geographic details of Dublin, details to which a reader with a knowledge of the area would be able to directly relate. The multiple perspectives presented throughout the collection serve to contrast the characters in Dublin at this time.

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James Joyce

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Title
Dubliners
Author
James Joyce
License

Icon for the Public Domain license

This work (Dubliners by James Joyce) is free of known copyright restrictions.

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