Dubliners Social Sensitivity

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In a 1905 letter to Grant Richards, Joyce related his surprise that "no artist has given Dublin to the world," despite its antiquity, its size, and its status as the second city of the British Empire. Dubliners, an attempt to fill this void, certainly casts a critical eye over its subject, but that Joyce wanted so badly to "give Dublin to the world" indicates that his aim goes well beyond merely excoriating the city of his youth. That Joyce's attitude toward the city is a complex one is hardly surprising. He did, after all, feel compelled to leave the city for good, only to devote a life-long self-imposed exile to writing about the place in the most painstaking detail. Dubliners, then, is a powerfully ambivalent volume, characterized at least as much by Joyce's frustration with the shortcomings of the city and its inhabitants as his sympathy for and powerful...

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