Dubliners is a collection of 15 short stories by James Joyce. They form a naturalistic depiction of Irish middle class life in and around Dublin in the early years of the 20th century. 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 centre on Joyce's idea of an epiphany: a moment where a character experiences self-understanding or illumination. Many of the characters in Dubliners later appear in minor roles in Joyce's novel Ulysses. 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.
In Dubliners Joyce rarely uses hyperbole, relying on simplicity and close detail to create a realistic setting. This ties the reader's understanding of people to their environments. He does not tell readers what to think, rather they are left to come to their own conclusions. This is even more evident when contrasted with the moral judgements displayed by earlier writers such as Charles Dickens. This frequently leads to a lack of traditional dramatic resolution within the stories. The collection as a whole displays an overall plan, beginning with stories of youth and progressing in age to culminate in The Dead. Great emphasis is laid upon the specific geographic details of Dublin, details to which a reader with a knowledge of the area would be able to directly relate. The multiple perspectives presented throughout the collection serve to contrast the characters in Dublin at this time.
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is the first novel of Irish writer James Joyce. A Künstlerroman in a modernist style, it traces the intellectual and religio-philosophical awakening of young Stephen Dedalus, a fictional alter ego of Joyce and an allusion to Daedalus, the consummate craftsman of Greek mythology. Stephen questions and rebels against the Catholic and Irish conventions under which he has grown, and culminates with his self-exile from Ireland in Europe. The work uses techniques that Joyce developed more fully in Ulysses.
The early youth of Stephen Dedalus is recounted at a vocabulary level of Stephen's own as he grows, in a voice not his own but sensitive to his feelings. The reader experiences Stephen's fears and bewilderment as he comes to terms with the world in a series of disjointed episodes. Stephen attends school at Jesuit-run Clongowes Wood College, where the apprehensive, intellectually gifted boy suffers the ridicule of his classmates while he learns the schoolboy codes of behaviour. While he cannot grasp their significance, at a Christmas dinner he is witness to the social, political, and religious tensions in Ireland involving Charles Stewart Parnell that drives bitter wedges between members of his family, leaving Stephen with doubts over which social institutions he can place his faith in. Back at Clongowes, word spreads that a number of older boys have been caught "smugging"; discipline is tightened, and the Jesuits increase use of corporal punishment. Stephen is strapped when one of his instructors believes he has broken his glasses to avoid studying; prodded by his classmates, Stephen works up the courage to complain to the rector Father Conmee, who assures him there will be no such recurrence, leaving Stephen with a sense of triumph.