Book: James Joyce’s Dubliners, An Illustrated Edition with Annotations by John Wyse Jackson and Bernard McGinley
Genre: short stories
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication date: 1993
Pages: 200 (actually twice that since the annotation pages are given the same number as the text pages)
Source: Inter-Library Loan
Summary: Dubliners is a collection of short stories by James Joyce set in his home-town of Dublin, Ireland. They are arranged in sub-collections in the book, the first three sub-collections are based on the relative ages of the main characters. “Childhood” has three stories; “Young Adulthood” and “Mature Life” have four stories each. A collection of three stories are grouped under the heading “Public Life” and take place in the political sphere, musical world, and the business realm of Dublin. The final story, in its own section, is “The Dead.”
This illustrated and annotated version displays the text of the stories on the right-hand page with pictures and notes on the left-hand page. Photographs, drawings, newspaper clippings, and maps all add to the understanding of the time and place of the stories.
Thoughts: When I go too long without working my way through a book, I forget how fun it is. My experience of Dubliners reminded me of reading Macbeth last year, Book Review: Macbeth by William Shakespeare. In the end, I suspect I’m more likely to pick up another Shakespeare play than a second book by James Joyce. Although my appreciation for Joyce grew over the time I read the book and with a bit more work, I think I could make myself a fan. Reading A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is a possibility I would consider.
Dubliners might not have been my best choice for an introduction to James Joyce. I’m not much of a fan of the short story form, finding it generally a vehicle for grim and detatched cleverness, not a state of mind I choose to cultivate. I may have never previously read a collection of short stories by one author, so I hadn’t realized that would be a partial cure. I got used to the mood of Dubliners and was able to get past it to appreciate the use of language and symbol. It didn’t hurt that the stories near the end lightened up just a little.
As I mentioned in my exploration of Oscar Wilde, Book Review: Stories for Children by Oscar Wilde and a Wilde visit to St. Louis, I heard the annotator, John Wyse Jackson, speak about Oscar Wilde’s visit to St. Louis in 1882. That’s why I tracked down this particular version of the book. There were moments while reading Dubliners when I enjoyed the notes much more than the original stories. This version would be an excellent starting point for a deep exploration of literature since the notes point out allusions that Joyce makes to previous literature and allusions that future writers will make to Joyce.
Dubliners was the source for my last four Wondrous Words Wednesday posts:
- February 29: gnomon
- March 7: simony
- March 14: sedulously and escaladed
- March 21: barmbracks, astrakhan, rectitude
Appeal: I read Dubliners in preparation for a trip to Ireland that will include several days in Dublin and I’m glad I did. This annotated version of Dubliners would also be an excellent stop in an exploration of the modern short story, 20th century literature in English, the literature of Ireland, or the works of James Joyce.
Challenges: Dubliners is Book 2 of the four book Ireland Challenge I signed up for in 2012.
Reviews: The Literary Omnivore describes the stories and writing in Dubliners: Review: Dubliners. Allie at A Literary Odyssey struggled even more than I did with Joyce, but she didn’t have my lovely annotated version: Book 98: Dubliners by James Joyce (Finished). Aarti of BookLust read Dubliners in Dublin (that’s so cool): Musings: Dubliners.
Have you read this book? What did you think?