Elucidating the role of matrix stiffness
Dubliners appeared first as a handful of stories published in an Irish periodical and was eventually published as a volume of fifteen stories in 1914.
This was followed by A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, published in New York in 1916 and in London the following year.
Joyce arranged the stories to present what he saw as the physical, moral, and social paralysis of Irish life in four distinct stages: three stories from the point of view of childhood; four stories describing the pivotal decisions of adolescence; four stories of maturity, in which the characters come to understand the consequences of past choices; and three stories of public life, which address issues such as politics, music, and the Catholic Church within the confines of Irish society.
The longest and last story of the collection, “The Dead,” is considered by critics to be an epilogue to the volume, in that it resolves and integrates themes, problems, and symbols introduced in the previous fourteen stories.
His church-based education did not lead to the priesthood, as his parents had hoped, and he eventually rejected Catholicism, in part for its role in creating the parochial, narrow-minded society from which he later sought escape.
During his childhood, Joyce attended Jesuit schools as a scholarship entrant and was considered a talented student.
Critical Reception Once he was able to get Dubliners published, Joyce generally enjoyed favorable response from literary reviewers.
It was clear from the start of his literary career that Joyce was a leader in reshaping modern fiction and reinventing the use of literary language.
Until well past the middle of the twentieth century, however, critics and scholars tended to lavish attention on Joyce's longer works of fiction, overlooking Dubliners as not much more than a collection of vignettes depicting the provinciality of the author's boyhood hometown.
His short stories are considered the most traditional and easily understood examples of Joyce's fiction, which in itself may have rendered them less interesting to scholars, who were eager to respond to the challenge of explicating A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Ulysses, and Finnegans Wake.