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Dubliners Audible – Unabridged

4.3 out of 5 stars 390 customer reviews

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Audible, Unabridged, December 16, 1999
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By Michael Battaglia on December 5, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I wish I could stand up here and make some pretentious claim that this is the "greatest short story collection of all time!" or something along those lines but I generally don't read short stories or short story collections. But I like James Joyce and so figured what the heck, I made it through Ulysses, this should be a cakewalk. So I read it and if you were wowed by Ulysses then this should reconfirm Joyce's genius for you and that he could do other writing besides that wacky postmodern stuff (before there really was a postmodern). If you're not a Joyce fan most of these (other than a notable handful) probably won't convert you. In essence these are Joyce's portraits of the people of Dublin and the city itself, most of these stories are character sketches, mostly following a few people around as they go about their lives. They were written over a period of time so the quality does vary a bit, the first few stories I don't find anything special but by the time you get to around "Two Gallants" the quality takes a sharp spike upward and stays there right until the end. The prose is fairly easy to follow, the worst part is deciphering all the Irish names and slang that are used liberally for obvious reasons . . . if anything it showed me how two cultures who technically speak the language can sound so different. The stories run the gamut of the "slice of life" genre, if such a thing exists, showing people from all walks of life and all classes of society, showing them as realistically as Joyce could, all their fears and foibles, warts and all. At his best he makes you live the lives of the characters and immerses you deeply into the city of Dublin, probably more than any group of short stories has ever brought a city to life.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
Having grown up in a small town much like Joyce's Dublin, this book has a special significance for me. I've seen so many people from my town graduating from high school without really understanding that there is an entire world outside the place they grew up and lacking the ambition to go explore it. I fear many of them will spend their lives "getting by" in a job they hate, raising children who will inevitably do the same thing. Joyce's "Dubliners" depicts this cycle with as much complexity and compassion as any author I've read.
In an age where the most publicized fiction tends to be simple-minded and genre-bound, it's refreshing to come across a writer with Joyce's complexity. "Dubliners" is so rich in its intellectual and symbolic atmosphere that many readers may be put off by the overall weight of the prose. The writing is so thick with metaphorical contexts that the literal content of the story occasionally becomes obscured, which can be frustrating for those not used to reading Joyce. Yet, while difficult, "Dubliners" is far from impossible to decipher, and although these stories function well as a whole, they are also more or less self-contained, which makes "Dubliners" easier to get through than Joyce's other works(it's a lot easier to take on a ten page short story than a 600+ page novel like "Ulysses" or "Finnegan's Wake"). For readers who are new to Joyce, this would be a good place to start.
A final note: since this book is old enough to be considered a "classic," there are a plethora of editions available from various publishers. I own the Vintage edition (ISBN: 0679739904).
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Format: Paperback
As a young man, James Joyce abandoned his hometown of Dublin, and yet, he never wrote about any other place. He had also rejected Catholicism, and yet all his characters are dominated by it. DUBLINERS, Joyce's collection of short stories which set the standard for the genre, is filled with characters who come to terrible revelations (which he called "epiphanies") about how their lives had been scarred by the provincialism of Dublin, the divisiveness of its politics, and the oppression of religion. By extension, this is how Joyce percieved humanity at the dawn of modernism.
The stories range from the psychologially simple ("Counterparts" and "A Little Cloud") to the extraordinarily complex ("A Painful Case" and "The Dead"). But what is common throughout is the feel for Dublin just after the turn of the last century. The readers see the cobblestones, the chimneys, the trams and carts, the churches, and the street lamps. More importantly, the readers feel the tensions underlying the public smiles and infrequent bursts of confidence that the characters exhibit.
The pinnacle of this collection is "The Dead". A novella, actually, "The Dead" encompasses everything: politics, religion, art, journalism, history, love, and the inevitability of death rendering all worldly things meaningless. This doesn't mean the story is a downer: this death is necessary to making a fresh start. The ending of "The Dead" has been interpreted in hundreds of ways. However, there is no denying that as Joyce "pulls back the camera" from the Conroy's hotel room to the universe above, the writing swells to its most beautiful. To me, this is a movement toward the future, toward change, leaving the living dead behind to a more spiritual life on Earth.
Rocco Dormarunno, author of The Five Points.
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