Dubliners 1914–Dubliners 100 (2014): Local Histories of Troubled Sexuality?

  • Michael Kane


In twenty-first-century Dublin, it is difficult to see what caused all the fuss that delayed the publication of Joyce’s Dubliners for so long, but part of the problem was his – actually rather subtle - treatment of sexuality.[1] In Dubliners, Joyce examined a colonial culture dominated, as Marilyn French argued, by popular Catholicism and ideas of propriety, both of which resulted in the repression of ‘the sexual’ along with ‘the sensual and sensuous’. Dubliners 100 (2014) is a collection of rewritten versions of Joyce’s Dubliners by contemporary Irish writers, using the same titles and showing several parallels with the original stories, but set in early twenty-first-century Dublin, many around the time of the financial crisis of 2008. Sexuality features in many of these stories too, but in ways that illustrate some of the changes in attitudes to sex and the social and cultural context of sexuality in Ireland since the late nineteenth century. Some of the contemporary stories also reveal a culture in which the expression of the sexual, the sensual and the sensuous is still dominated and constrained, if by different powers than in Joyce’s day. This article will compare a selection of Joyce’s stories (‘Araby’, ‘Eveline’, ‘The Boarding House’, and ‘Clay’) with the contemporary versions, specifically in terms of the treatment of sexuality.

[1] According to Ellmann, one of the passages printers objected to was a line in ‘Counterparts’ referring to a ‘woman’s changing the position of her legs often and brushing against a man’s chair’. Richard Ellmann, James Joyce (Oxford, London…: Oxford University Press, 1982), 220.

Keywords: James, 1882-1941, Dubliners 100, Dubliners, Araby, Joyce, Sexuality & culture

How to Cite:

Kane, M., (2020) “Dubliners 1914–Dubliners 100 (2014): Local Histories of Troubled Sexuality?”, Studies in Arts and Humanities 5(2), 2-29. doi:

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Published on
14 Jul 2020
Peer Reviewed