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General biography until the completion of Dubliners:


James Joyce was born at Rathgar in Dublin to a Catholic family in 1882. His father was a failed distiller and his mother was an accomplished pianist who was extremely dedicated to the Church. Despite economic harships, Joyce’s family always kept up a middle class appearance. James’s early education was overseen by Jesuits at the Clongowes Wood and Belvedere Colleges. James would thank the Jesuits for “teaching me to think straight,” although he would later reject the religion. Later he went on to study philosophy and languages at the University College, also in Dublin. After graduating in 1902, James moved on to Paris where he worked as a teacher, journalist, and did other odd jobs. He was in France for only a year when he was summoned home because his mother was dying. Shortly after his mother’s death in 1904 he left Ireland again with Nora Barnacle, a chambermaid who he later married in 1931. Nora and James traveled in Pola, Austria Hungary, and ended up in Trieste, which was at the time, the world’s seventh busiest port. During his years in Trieste, Nora and James moved around and were often poor, but from a literary standpoint, they were very productive. During his years in Trieste, James wrote most of Dubliners, all of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, a play called Exiles, and many sections from Ulysses. Joyce would return to Dublin again in 1909 to attempt to start a cinema, and then again in 1912 to convince his publisher to finish printing Dubliners, it would be his last stay in Dublin.


How this influences Dubliners:


            All of the stories in Dubliners are based in and around the city of Dublin, which James portrays as grimy and full of people that are indecent and cynical. But these viewpoints may just coincide with what James himself thought of Ireland. After graduating college he spent most of his time outside of Ireland and only returned occasionally. It is in this setting that James was able to help pioneer a style that broke away from the classic short stories of Poe and Maupassant which had a planned story with actions at the beginning and ending. Joyce often ended with thoughts or epiphanies. It is also apparent in Joyce’s stories his Catholic influence, although he abandoned the religion, religious overtones and commentary are apparent in many of Joyce’s short stories. 


Some Joyce quotes about Dubliners:


“I call the series Dubliners to betray the soul of that hemiplegia or
paralysis which many consider a city.” – August 1904

”The Dublin papers will object to my stories as to a caricature of
Dublin life... At times the spirit directing my pen seems to me so
plainly mischievous that I am almost prepared to let the Dublin
critics have their way.” – July 1905

”I think people might be willing to pay for the special odour of
corruption which, I hope, floats over my stories.” – October 1905

”I have written it for the most part in a style of scrupulous
meanness...” –May 1906

”I believe that in composing my chapter of moral history in exactly
the way I have composed it I have taken the first step towards the
spiritual liberation of my country.” – May 1906