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4.1 out of 5 stars
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4.1 out of 5 stars
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I am delighted to have found such a beautifully produced complete collection enabling me to simply listen and soak up the atmosphere of James Joyce's early twentieth century Dublin.

Hearing the stories read seems to me to be the perfect way to revisit or discover them for the first time. Each story in this CD box set is introduced by a period song transferred from a 78 rpm record, setting the scene for the faultless readings by Jim Norton to make a completely captivating whole.

The stories vary considerably, from the simply melancholic to, for example, 'Counterparts' which chillingly depicts drunkenness, menace and violence. They have all the resonance of a sad song telling of a love lost, a missed opportunity, the 'if only' or 'what might have been'.

This set contains two triple CD cases. Inside Part One there is a 12 page booklet which includes a useful description of the context of the stories and the struggle Joyce had to get them published. The Part Two booklet contains additional notes by Roger Marsh. Each booklet also contains several photographs of Dublin past, and the details of each track and timings.

Dubliners Part 1 CD contains: The Sisters, An Encounter, Araby, Eveline, After the Race, Two Gallants, The Boarding House, A Little Cloud, Counterparts and Clay.

Dubliners Part 2 CD contains: A Painful Case, Ivy Day in the Committee Room, A Mother, Grace, and The Dead.

Worth every penny, many times over!
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on 12 December 2008
Nobody else has reviewed this, so I thought I'd chip in. I've read 'Dubliners' a couple of times, although not for a few years now. But I've started listening to audiobooks when I travel, and I thought this one might be an interesting listen. The stories are excellent, and if you've not read 'Dubliners' before, you probably should. Most of them convey minor incidents in the lives of minor people, but they do so in a remarkable way. For all of Joyce's later invention & imagination, he also demonstrates here (and elsewhere, for that matter) an incredible insight into the ordinary lives of unexceptional people, and several of these stories are heartbreaking. (Some are also quite funny.)

Anyway, onto the Naxos audiobook. This six-disc set contains the all the stories, over about seven hours. The reader is Jim Norton, best known to me as Bishop Len Brennan from 'Father Ted'. I initially wondered if that was going to be a distraction, but (thankfully) it turns out that his normal reading voice is nothing like that character's distinct style. Norton does the range of characters very well, even in stories like 'Ivy Day in the Committee Room', where I never had any problems telling the multiple characters apart during lenghty dialogues. He even sings a few times! Naxos has also used some suitable music to top & tail most of the stories here, which adds suitably to the atmosphere.

Anyway, whether you've enjoyed 'Dubliners' before, or are trying to start on Joyce with his most accessible work, I can highly recommend this version. I've now bought the Naxos version of 'Finnegans Wake', in the hope that an (abridged) audio reading of that book will make it even faintly comprehensible...
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on 6 August 2009
Dubliners is the usual route into the fiction of James Joyce as it is considered the most "accessible" to readers. I have read the book and agree with that view, but having listened now to these wonderful recordings by Jim Norton I would also say that just listening to this set will do for anyone new to Joyce just as well as reading the book.
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Joyce's collection of 15 stories takes the reader through the various strata of Dublin society of the early years of the twentieth century. The prose is of a uniformly high standard, though some of the pieces are too fragmentary and unresolved to be fully satisfying. When Joyce does tell a story, though, he tells it excellently, making me rather regret that he didn't use standard prose and story-telling techniques more often.

The sum of the collection is greater than its individual parts, however, so that even the shorter character sketches add something to the reader's understanding of Dublin and its citizens. Despite the wide range of class and circumstance Joyce addresses, each one has a sense of total authenticity, of a deep understanding of how this society intermixes. There is a common theme running throughout, of people trapped, either by circumstance or because of decisions they have made, and many of the stories focus on a moment in the central characters' lives when they become aware of their trap. Drunkenness, violence and the stifling stranglehold of the Catholic church all play their part in showing a society where aspiration is a rare commodity, usually thwarted. I understand some of the stories were considered shocking at the time for their language and sexual content. Given the relative mildness of them to modern eyes, this fact in itself casts another light on how socially restricted the society was at the time of writing.

The prose is somewhat understated, with Joyce relying more on the penetrating examination of character rather than any flamboyancy of language or stylistic quirks, and that works well for me. He achieves a depth of characterisation with few words, acknowledging his reader's ability to interpret and understand without the need to have everything spelled out. Just occasionally, this left me floundering a little in the couple of stories where he is addressing contemporary Irish politics or mores, but I accept that's my weakness rather than his. In the stories where he is addressing more fundamental aspects of human nature, I appreciated his rather sparing style greatly.

Overall, I found the fully developed stories excellent, while the ones that are primarily character sketches are interesting if not wholly satisfying. However, as a collection, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing, the weaker parts being more than compensated for by the stronger.
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on 5 January 2016
If you tried but failed to understand Joyce's Ulysses, as I did, you need to know that Dubliners is much easier reading.

It is not what I expected. In one story Joyce describes how as children they played Cowboys and Indians - with Joyce a somewhat ineffectual Indian. 'An Encounter' describes how as children they met but managed to ignore an old pervert. Another describes a diffident man forced to marry a pregnant girl. 'Two Gallants' describes two men on a pub crawl, one of whom was apparently successful with girls at the drop of his hat, to the envy of the other - though his actual 'success' was tawdry.

Perhaps surprisingly, Joyce also shows a sense of humour. "A Mother" is a masterpiece in avoiding responsibility - it would be a great script for something like the TV show "The Office". Here Mrs Kearney "respected her husband in the same way as she respected the General Post Office, as something large, secure and fixed" - well, this was in the days before privatisation! Drink, pubs, curates and religions abound. In 'Grace' Mr Cunningham explains "...that one of Pope Leo's poems was on the invention of photography - in Latin, of course".

These snippets of Dubliners' lives are far from rosy. Life just goes on, rather pointlessly it seems. You are left wondering what inner worlds these people inhabited.

But what struck me personally were the parallels between the events Joyce describes and some my own past experiences - so for me these accounts have an uncanny power.
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on 29 June 2014
A well written collection of short stories by one of the english speaking people's most revered authors. This is no light reading. All the stories reveal characters whose lives are in some kind of paralysis and who become aware of this themselves by some happening in their story.
Joyce shows the city of Dublin and it's cultural existence as being similarly paralysed whilst he frequently intimates that England has a much more thriving society.
It is a gritty social account of a somewhat isolated city and it's inhabitants. It is not a light read, but it is well written and shows the human observations of the man who went on to write some of the finest works in Irish literature. Not necessarily a work to be enjoyed but certainly an aspect of the human condition to be studied.
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on 16 August 2015
As the title of the review suggests, I was forced to read this for A level and wanted to have a nostalgic go at it 25 years on. It is just as dry and dull as ever. I wanted to love it finally but just couldn't.
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on 11 April 2013
Dubliners is a fabulous collection of short stories, beautifully written. I bought the kindle version to supplement the paperback, so that I could take it on holiday more easily, and it is OK for that purpose. But this version is full of typos and not particularly well set out on the page. If you are reading Dubliners for the first time, don't rely on this kindle version, but if you just want to be able to revise it and can deal with the typos, it's fine.
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on 31 January 2011
The most famous of the short stories in this collection is of course The Dead. A beautiful and tragic story of lost love and memories.

Yet each story holds its own in fitting in the author's main theme of paralysis, how things were standing still particularly in Ireland. How the lives of the characters remain the same whilst the world moves around them and his need to escape Ireland - Joyce very much feeling a stranger in his own land at the time of writing.

Now onto the edition. Strange to say but the font is what grabs me most about this edition. I have used Norton Critical Editions in studying Jane Eyre and the essays provided both at the back of this and Jane Eyre were informative, and excellent for the student of english literature in that it provided an excellent context and critical commentary up to and including third level study.
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on 27 January 2015
Each story describes the circumstances of a low-end Dubliner's life during which a shift of view takes place. There is strong sense of place and a recognition that some people can not escape from their depressed situation.
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