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Joyce | Dubliners

Introduction to Dubliners, with attention to "The Sisters"

Tricia Ebarvia

on 2 November 2018

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Transcript of Joyce | Dubliners

Dubliners is a collection of short stories set in Dublin in the early 20th century. As the title suggests, the collection is about Dublin's people, whom Joyce portrayed with a "scrupulous meanness."

Joyce began Dubliners in 1904.
It was published in 1914. http://www.biography.com/people/james-joyce-9358676/videos/james-joyce-full-episode-2073251470 1882 - 1941
Modernism, stream-of-consciousness
Dubliners (1914) , Portrait of an Artist (1916), Ulysses (1922), Finnegan's Wake (1939) The titles of each story in Dubliners are listed at the right.

What do you observe, what can you infer, what can you predict?

{handout: part 3} : portrait of a city James Joyce once told a friend, "One of the things I could never get accustomed to in my youth was the difference I found between life and literature" . . . Joyce dedicated his career to erasing it and in the process revolutionized 20th century fiction. {handout: part 1}

Think about your city / town / neighborhood / organization.

What did you imagine for your short story collection?

He fled Ireland into self-imposed exile late in 1904 . . . Joyce departed Dublin with nearly all the narratives he would ever write already stored in his memory. What remained for him to do was transform this cache into an art that could measure up to his own expectations." - Time Magazine (1988) Take notes as you watch. Now brainstorm possible titles for your short stories.

{handout: part 3} 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. What was Joyce trying to do? Paralysis? What is Joyce talking about? You should read "The Sisters." I put it all in there for you, my dear readers. Review the opening paragraph.

{handout: part 4: questions 1 & 2} paralysis gnomon simony epiphany total or partial loss of ability to move or to control movement geometry: what is left of a parallelogram when a similar pallelogram, containing one its angles, is removed from it catechism: sin of obtaining church office by purchasing it rather than legitimate means any exchange of money (bribes) for "spiritual things" named for Simon Magus who offered to bestow the "Holy Spirit" on those who would pay him (in Act of the Apostles) "indicator"
"that which reveals" religious: name of the church feast celebrating the visit of the three wise men to the infant Jesus a divine manifestation, a sudden perception of meaning, a powerful intuition of reality {in your groups: handout: part 4: questions 3-8} Joyce used epiphany as a literary device signifying a discovery of truth through an ordinary experience.

Character experiences a sudden and powerful insight different from what he/she previously thought to be the truth (disillusionment) Finish reading "The Sisters" and answer the remaining questions. physical
paralysis social paralysis spiritual paralysis in "The Sisters" Father Flynn has had three strokes; he lies paralyzed in bed, awaiting death. All, especially the narrator, wait to see what happens to the priest, unable to help, unable to affect the ultimate outcome (death) Father Flynn, a "much disappointed" and "too scrupulous" man , disillusioned or in his faith; dropping the chalice (a spiritual symbol) in the middle of mass reinforces this paralysis in "The Sisters" gnomon : a sign of something subtracted narrator is on "vacation," a period of time "vacated," emptied out narrator looking for something not there: the reflection of two candles in the window to signify the priest's death the window itself; an absence of wall that allows you to "see" through "God knows we done all we could [for him], poor as we are." How have the sisters lives been in a state of paralysis? a stroke is a subtraction of faculties; Father Flynn had lost "all hope" with the third; a process of subtraction broken chalice "contained nothing" (symbol for the emptiness of Father Flynn's faith and of the Irish Catholic Church) absence of the candles is a sign of presence (priest lives), while the presence of the candles would be a sign of absence (i.e. the priest has died) final conversation / scene in failing light before an "empty grate" absence of a father; "substitute" figures in Father Flynn and Old Cotter exchanging the material for the spiritual : to make vulgar what is pure What is the priest's motive for befriending the narrator? One of the sisters describes Father Flynn as a "disappointed man." His life was "crossed," the "duties of of the priesthood was too much for him." He could be disillusioned with his spiritual work and his legacy : celibacy and lack of children. Father Flynn's friendship with the narrator may be his way of passing on a legacy, allowing him to "live on" in the boy (as his "child" or as a future priest) Friendship, however, is based in love, which is pure. To base a friendship on a personal motivation (ego) is to vulgarize and debase it = simony Simony = mutual exchange of the material for the spiritual The narrator leaves one father figure, Old Cotter, behind and chooses to befriend Father Flynn instead. In doing so, the boy gains status in the community, both intellectual (learns Latin) and social prestige "It began to confess to me in a murmuring voice and I wondered why it smiled continually and why the lips were so moist with spittle. But then I remembered that it had died of paralysis and I felt that I too was smiling feebly as if to absolve the simoniac of his sin." - suggests an ulterior motive Historical / Cultural Note: It was not uncommon for there to be priest in every member of the family among the working-class poor. Joining the clergy meant a rise in stature; to do so consciously with this motive is an act of simony first experience with death
disillusionment with priest / faith
guilt over feelings "She stopped suddenly as if to listen. I too listened; but there was no sound in the house: and I knew that the old priest was lying still in his coffin as we had seen him, solemn and truculent in death, an idle chalice on his breast." Biographical note: Joyce rejected Catholicism by the time he was in his mid-20s and believed that the repressive culture of Irish Catholicism caused paralysis and corruption in Ireland { childhood }
"The Sisters," "An Encounter," "Araby"

{ adolescence }
"Eveline," "After the Race," "Two Gallants," "The Boarding House"

{ maturity }
"A Little Cloud," "Counterparts," "Clay," "A Painful Case"

{ public life }
"Ivy Day in the Committee Room," "A Mother," "Grace,"

"The Dead" dubliners : a series of epiphanies paralysis gnomon simony how are characters in a state of physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual paralysis? what is missing in the story? for the characters? what is left unsaid? what questions remain for the reader and characters? in what ways are things "vulgarized" or tarnished? what motivates characters? what is being "exchanged" between characters? each story is a work of art, every stroke deliberate, rendered with a "scrupulous meanness" integrity harmony
+ claritas
beauty Father Flynn's (and thus, the Irish Catholic Church's) emphasis on the rules of church dogma result in a paralysis of faith - explains the narrator's feeling of "freedom" that comes with Father Flynn's death
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