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Dubliners

By James Joyce (4)

James Joyce’s collection of thematically related stories explores the conflicts of Dubliners leading lives of moral paralysis. Joyce masterfully dissects the world he grew up in and left as a young man. Most of the stories, written in Joyce’s early twenties, reflect his preoccupations at that time: repression, the influence of the church, the politics of an Ireland under English rule, and urban isolation. As such, all of the characters are touched by pathos. There is Eveline, a young girl who gives up her chance for romantic love to remain the slave of her abusive father; Maria, a lonely spinster, who becomes the subject of subtle mockery, despite her devotion and goodness; and a gathering of local politicians who stop their proceedings to mourn the passing of a great Irish leader, Charles Parnell. Also of note is the beautiful story “The Dead,” which focuses on a man in love with his wife, but finds that her heart has always belonged to another man, long dead. The brooding melancholy of Dubliners, its portrayal of alienation, and the brilliance of its author make this collection a modern classic.

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