Geographies of Mobility in James Joyce’s Dubliners

Madeleine Hamlin


Rendered with remarkable specificity and attention to place, Dubliners by James Joyce is a classic urban text. For Joyce, Dublin is synecdoche for a paralyzed Irish nation, immobilized socially, culturally, and economically by its colonial status. In portraying the geography of Dublin through fiction, Joyce conveys the city on two levels: first, through the social relations between characters, whose journeys through their city are always circular, and whose mobilities are circumscribed by their social position, and second, between reader and the text, whereby the city is coded via symbolic references to place that rely upon a knowledge of the city’s urban geography and cultural history. Nevertheless, despite his reliance on literary realism, Joyce’s depiction of Dublin is ultimately his own, personal reading of the ‘real’ city, written from afar. In this way, his collection pressures the boundaries of the real and the fictional. Through a close reading of three stories from the collection—’An Encounter,’ ‘Eveline,’ and ‘Two Gallants’—this paper provides an interpretation of Dubliners as a form of literary cartography, which reveals much about power and politics in Joyce’s city.


James Joyce; realism; mobility; Dublin; modernism

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