Dubliners – anything change since Joyce?

James Joyce lived in an era before Tribunals. Does anything ever change?

“Dubliner” seems to me to have some meaning and I doubt whether the same can be said for such words as “Londoner” and “Parisian” both of which have been used by writers as titles. From time to time I see in publishers’ lists announcements of books on Irish subjects, so that I think people might be willing to pay for the special odour of corruption which, I hope, floats over my stories.

(James Joyce (1882-1941), Irish author. Letter, October 15, 1905, to Grant Richards, prospective publisher of Dubliners. Selected Letters of James Joyce, ed. Richard Ellmann, Viking (1975). Joyce explains his title for his collection of stories, Dubliners.)

James Joyce

Dubliners, strictly speaking, are my fellow-countrymen, but I don’t care to speak of our “dear, dirty Dublin” as they do. Dubliners are the most hopeless, useless and inconsistent race of charlatans I have ever come across, on the island or the continent. This is why the English Parliament is full of the greatest windbags in the world. The Dubliner passes his time gabbing and making the rounds in bars or taverns or cathouses, without every getting ‘fed up’ with the double doses of whiskey and Home Rule, and at night, when he can hold no more and is swollen up with poison like a toad, he staggers from the side- door and, guided by an instinctive desire for stability along the straight line of the houses, he goes slithering his backside against all walls and corners. He goes “arsing along” as we say in English. There’s the Dubliner for you.

(James Joyce (1882-1941), Irish author. Originally transcribed by Alessandro Francini Bruni in his pamphlet, Joyce intimo spogliato in piazza (Trieste, 1922). Richard Ellmann, James Joyce, Viking (revised 1982). Joyce recited this and other vignettes while at the Berlitz school in Trieste in order to teach English to Italians.)