Although the stories In Dubliners were written 1904 – 1907, Joyce had to wait until 1914 for publication.
He had long battled against publishers who demanded he ‘injure’, ‘ mortally mutilate’ and ‘efface’ his text by cutting words, changing proper names of real places and even omitting some of the stories. He saw his work as an integral whole, and described his aims as follows:
My intention was to write a chapter of the moral history of my country and I chose Dublin for the scene because that city seemed to me the centre of paralysis. I have tried to present it to the indifferent public under four of its aspects: childhood, adolescence, maturity and public life. The stories are arranged in this order.
A notable feature of the stories is what Joyce called the “epiphany”: the instant when the protagonists realise fully the truth (and very often the limitations) of their situation and life.
It is striking that songs which appear are used either as a catalyst for the epiphany (e.g. ‘The Lass of Aughrim’ in The Dead) or as an oblique commentary on the characters (e.g. ‘Silent O Moyle’ in Two gallants). There is a notional link between the principal characters in Eveline and Clay which is underscored by references to Balfe’s Bohemian Girl in both stories.