araby

Topics: Jacques Lacan, Short story, James Joyce Pages: 8 (3226 words) Published: November 14, 2013
AN ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY
of James Joyce's
"ARABY"
Joyce reportedly boasted that Ulysses would keep the professors busy, and indeed it has occupied the bulk of articles pertaining to his work. Dubliners is often seen as a step to that great work, and its stories are often picked over for evidence of their influence on Ulysses. However, a number of tales in this collection have taken a critical life of their own. "The Dead," most obviously, attracts considerable attention, and "The Sisters" has also started to become regarded more seriously by the scholars. "Araby" has also been the loci of a fair amount of scholarship. It has become the standard secondary school Joyce reading, and it has become so frequently anthologized that it is a staple of introductory English Literature classes. Criticism of "Araby" began in earnest in the early 1960s, largely buoyed by an article by Harry Stone that uncovered the dense symbolism undergirding the story. Since then, criticism of "Araby" seems to fall into three unique threads: First, following Stone’s precedent, is the Symbolic Thread, which seeks to uncover allusions to other authors, the hidden meaning behind objects in the text, or view its plot as an archetype of some sort. Secondly is the Theoretical Thread, which has attempted to apply contemporary literary criticism to the tale. Despite the dominance of post-modern criticism in the modern academy, Theorists have not taken much to the tale. Finally, the Pedagogical Thread, which views "Araby" as an ideal story which can be used either as a teaching tool or as a testing ground for theoretical approaches. Although this third group rarely illuminates a reading of "Araby," it illustrates a universality about the story that makes it a perfect example of the short story form. Through these three approaches, one may best view a history of "Araby" criticism. Harry Stone published "'Araby’ and the Writings of James Joyce" in The Antioch Review in 1965. It is typical of Joyce criticism at the time in that it reads "Araby" through the later books, illustrating the elements that would later shape them. Stone claims that the story is "a portrait of the artist as a young boy" (376), arguing for an autobiographical basis to the story. However, Stone’s illumination of the stories symbolism made it a central article to the study of the story (the bulk of "Araby" articles site Stone). After locating rather basic allusions to Yeats and DeQuincy, his look at Joyce’s use of Mangan arguably begins the Symbolic Thread of criticism. Noting that "Mangan is an important name," Stone notes that the poet James Clarence Mangan strongly influenced Joyce. In "Araby," "Mangan" is the name both of the boy’s friend and, of course, his idealized sister. Stone suggests that the poem "Dark Rosaleen" is central to the story, stating that "Mangan’s poem contains the same blend of physical love and religious adoration that Joyce makes the boy show for Mangan’s sister" (387). The word Mangan, then, brings to mind a host of allusions: Ireland itself, poetry, "Dark Rosaleen," all of which play a role in discerning the meaning of "Araby." The story’s importance, for Stone and others that follow, lies in its symbolic details. It is unsurprising, then, that a minor spate of articles would illuminate various intricacies of Joyce’s text. In addition to reading Mangan, Stone touches upon, among other things, the symbolism of "blind," the word "Araby," the florin, vigils in the tale, and so one. It is not a particularly well-written article—it strays from its central point of relating "Araby" to Joyce’s later work (apRoberts is correct in repeatedly criticizing it for not having a thesis)—but it posits the story as a tale brimming with symbolism through which the story is infinitely illuminated. The journal Explicator was a natural locus for scholars isolating the importance of details. Its pages hosted a brief exchange between William Going and Stanley Friedman on the...
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