What a bizarre idea for a teacher to have her students read Joyce's 'Dubliners' without the slightest introduction or commentary!
Yet this is what happened to a student of mine. His class were only told it was a collection of short stories and that's that. Not that it's Joyce's most difficult work but I feel a preparatory, if short, explanation was needed all the same.
Of course you can read 'Dubliners' with a fresh mind, but still...
If I didn't take it wrong, I had read the piece in my undergraduate when my sophommore writing teaching required us to read one short stories a week from her collection and wrote a commentary by ourselves...I didn't know how I did that though and at that time, innocently believed that I had understand what the author wanted to say as a Dubliner.
Well, given another chance, I shall read it better...
Sure. Written in the first decade of the XXth centrury, it deals with the moral decline of Europe before World War I and, in particular, of the city of Dublin.
Every story revolves around a central character experiencing troubles, frustration, sense of inadequacy in an obtuse society until a trivial event, an 'epiphany' (as Joyce called it) suddenly makes all negativity evident and leaves the character even more dejected than before.
The key story is the final one, 'The Dead', universally considered as one the masterpieces of the century, which is also the longest. It is incredibly moving and quite appropriate for the end-of-year festivals. It was made into an unforgettable movie by John Huston, starring his daughter Anjelica.
I haven't read Dubliners. You said it requires explanation. Could you please give us a brief introduction before I start reading the book?