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Joyce - Dubliners


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Joyce's literary production includes: "Dubliners", "A portrait of the artist as a young man", "Ulysses", "Finnegans  Wake", a collection of poems and a not very successful play: "Exiles"

Before analysing his 2 best works it is important to focus our attention on the relationship between the writer and his native country: Ireland. In fact it was a very complex relationship: if of one side he rejected everything that was Irish, on the other side all his works are centred on Ireland and most of them are even set in Dublin that he considered : "the navel" of the world.


"Dubliners" was written in the first period of Joyce's literary production and is marked by a realistic narrative technique.

"Dubliners" is not a novel but a collection of fifteen short stories about episodes of life of Irish people. The central theme of this work is the theme of the paralyses considered the inability to overcome all the moral and physical frustration which characterised Dublin and which led Dubliner to accept passively all the limitation reposed by their social contest.

The first fourteen stories were finished in 1905 and the last story "The dead" was written in 1907 but the entire book was published only in 1914 because was banned as immoral for Joyce's descriptions of the city life and the references to real places and people living in Dublin.

The theme of paralyses in the last story is presented under four aspects, each of these aspects represent a stage of life (childhood, adolescence, maturity and public life).The last story represents a sort of summary of all his aspects.

In these stories Joyce introduced the concept of the so called "Epiphany" that refers to those moments in which simple objects or simple details or thoughts appear in the mind of a person and produces a new sudden consciousness of his/her miserable condition. The best example can be found in the "dead" in whom J. presented the failure of love in the marriage when the protagonist Gabriel Conray after his wife's revelations suddenly realized how poor part he has had in Gretta's life and how banal are his irritations and how weak are his desires but also all the life around him.

From a stylistic point of view "Dubliners" is quite easy to understand because in this book J. does not use the interior monologue technique but these stories are written in a style which can be considered realistic but also symbolic and even lyrical.


Ulysses considered Joyce's masterpiece was written in the second period of Joyce's literary production and marked a transition from the traditional style (1 period) to an experimental highly symbolic, allegorical, narrative forms (2 period). U. appears in a serial form in 1918 on the American "Little revue" but only in 1922 it was published in Paris in book form but it was banned for obscenity until 1936.

U. is a very long and complex novel modelled on the original Odyssey written by Omer. In fact U. is divided into 18 chapters corresponding to the same numbers of episodes in Odyssey and the division of the day into 24 hours corresponds to the 24 books of Omer's work. U. is divided into three parts:

called "Telemachia" deals around the character of Stephen Dedalus who symbolizes Telemachus, son of Ulysses.

called "Odyssey" is about the character of Leopold Bloom who symbolizes Ulysses.

called "Nostos" is about the character of Molly Bloom, Leopold's wife, who allegorically symbolizes Penelope because while P. represents a faithful wife Molly is an unfaithful wife.

These three characters represent different aspects of human nature, in fact Stephen represents the pure intellect and embodies every young men in search of maturity, Molly instead represents the sensual nature and the fecundity, finally Leopold represents both of these aspects: intellect, passion

consequently he represent the human kind. "Ulysses" is set in Dublin and describes the trivial banal experiences of these three characters of a single day: the 16 June 1904,the day when Joyce and Nora met.

In this novel we don't find a lot of actions because Joyce is not interested in describing external world but rather in showing how the human mind works, the mental process of human kind through the association of ideas which reflected the irrational and apparently chaotic flow of thought, in fact in this novel the mental or inner time replaced the chronologic time. The novel is a sequence of interior monologues full of symbols; consequently the language used is complex and difficult, rich of  pans, contrasts, images, paradoxes and the grammar is irregular in fact punctuation and subject is often omitted.

In this novel we find 2 level of narration: 1 level is objectivity and external to the mind of characters, this level is expresses with a regular grammar. 2 level is subjectivity because takes place inside in him the mind of characters and is expressed with an irregular grammar.

Joyce uses the extreme interior monologue only in his last novel "Finnegans Wake this novel describes what the protagonist thinks while he's dreaming. The theme of this novel is highly moral, in fact this novel wants to show the human life means sufferings and falling but also struggling in order to rise and seek the good.


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