By: James Joyce
James Joyce is his own best interlocutor:
‘My intention was to write a chapter of the moral history of my country and I chose Dublin for the scene because that city seemed to me the centre of paralysis. I have tried to present it to the indifferent public under four of its aspects: childhood, adolescence, maturity and public life. The stories are arranged in this order. I have written it for the most part in a style of scrupulous meanness and with the conviction that he is a very bold man who dares to alter in the presentment, still more to deform, whatever he has seen and heard. It is not my fault that the odour of ashpits and old weeds and offal hangs round my stories. I seriously believe that you will retard the course of civilisation in Ireland by preventing the Irish people from having one good look at themselves in my nicely polished looking glass.’
Dubliners, one of the great short-story collections in the English language, was first published in London on 15 June 1914 by Grant Richards, who had rejected the original set of twelve stories in September 1906; in the interim, according to Joyce, it was turned down by forty publishers.
This consummate book, illustrated by the artist Louis le Brocquy, was published privately by The Dolmen Press in 1986. It is now being made widely available for the first time, the text deriving from Robert Scholes’ 1967 edition, which restored Joyce’s original punctuation and corrections. Le Brocquy’s drawings, hieroglyphic ‘shadows thrown by the text’, are haunting accompaniments to these fifteen stories or ‘incidents’ in the life of a city, in Joyce’s first major prose work. With this handsome edition, Dubliners returns fittingly to its source.