Dubliners is a collection of 15 short stories by James Joyce, first published in 1914. They form a naturalistic depiction of Irish middle class life in and around Dublin in the early years of the 20th century. The initial stories in the collection are narrated by child protagonists, and as the stories continue, they deal with the lives and concerns of progressively older people. This is in line with Joyce's tripartite division of the collection into childhood, adolescence, and maturity.
The stories were written when Irish nationalism was at its peak, and a search for a national identity and purpose was raging. At a crossroads of history and culture, Ireland was jolted by various converging ideas and influences. They center on Joyce's idea of an epiphany: a moment where a character experiences a life-changing self-understanding or illumination. Many of the characters in Dubliners later appear in minor roles in Joyce's novel Ulysses.
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"Dubliners" is a mosaic of life in that city near the turn of the last century. Sometimes poignant, sometimes wickedly funny, sometimes soaring, it includes people up and down the social scale, but mostly down. Many of the characters return in Joyce's later novels "Portrait of the Artist" and "Ulysses."
Gerry O'Brien, as he showed in "Portrait," is a wonderful narrator and is particularly wonderful with Joyce. There is something light and seemingly effortless about his reading, right up to the last haunting sentence of the last story, "The Dead."
I hope he's able at some point to record "Ulysses" as well. I can't imagine anybody I'd rather listen to, or any narrator I'd be more willing to trust it to.
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