of James Joyce's


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 poem featured in the story, "The Arab’s Farewell to its Steed"; a very slight note on the "sixpenny entrance" from William Burto; a note on an allusion to St. Tarsicus, and several other brief bits. While rarely straying from the sort of insight that a reasonably bright student would make, these notes continue to illustrate the impulse to uncover symbolism that buttresses much Joyce criticism.

The symbolic approach had a vocal critic from the start in Robert apRoberts. "’Araby’ and the Palimpsest of Criticism" also received publication in The Antioch Review in 1967, and it directly responds to Stone’s article. However, apRoberts concerns seem to be less with Stone than the limits of criticism in general. He begins strongly by revealing how an overzealous Symbolist can overstretch his bounds and reveal an incorrect point: Stone argued that the dead priest was greedy and immoral, symbolizing the decaying church. His evidence is the statement that he donated "all his money" after he died (a priest, after all, shouldn’t have much money) and that his reading materials included The Devout Communicant, an anti-Catholic work by Abednego Seller. ApRoberts astutely notes that there is no textual authority for the priest’s greed. A secular priest can own property, and simply because Joyce doesn’t mention that the priest is charitable doesn’t mean he’s necessarily uncharitable. But the final blow is apRoberts's argument that the Devout Communicant in the story was probably a very popular Catholic work by Pacificus Baker that was quite standard in Ireland (unlike Seller’s, which, prodders note, he couldn’t find anywhere in Ireland). Joyce’s biography proves that he would be familiar with Baker’s work but not necessarily Seller’s. ApRoberts continues by dismantling many of the symbolic reading Stone created, including all of the above mentioned.

While apRoberts's reading is certainly the stronger of the two, he himself cannot escape the grasp of the symbolic. He gives, for instance, a fine reading of the bicycle pump (an item that has generated much criticism) as "a symbol of the British commercial materialism which has corrupted Irish Catholicism" (476). Some of his suggestions may seem naďve to a generation weaned on post-structuralism. For instance, part of his argument against Stone’s interpretation of the florin reads:

…the reason Joyce chose to have the boy clutch the florin is that he did not choose to have him clutch something else. What reader, no matter how attentive, would call to mind the history of the florin, even if he knew it, on the strength of its single mention in [a] sentence…

Of course, any number of cultural materialists, Marxists, and reader-response critics would find this statement problematic, and indeed it seems extreme to impose limits on this sort of reading, which is certainly legitimate for certain purposes. One gets the impression that one could synthesize Stone’s symbolic meandering and apRoberts's rational formalism into an even stronger reading. Still, the strength of apRoberts's piece lies in its advocacy of intelligently read symbolism: "[I]f we consider the symbol-making power of the mind, anything may become symbolic for a reader," he notes. "[D]etails give verisimilitude and…. some may take on symbolic significance in the light of the central idea of the story" (485). Though applied to "Araby," his advice should have strong resonance elsewhere.

Equally important, however, is apRoberts’s assertion that Stone errs in thinking that "Araby" must be read in light of Joyce’s later works. ApRoberts accuses Stone of using "Araby" as a "free-association fantasy" rather than a unique story in itself. Indeed, very little later criticism of "Araby" seeks to relate it to Ulysses or Finnegans Wake (Frank Turaj’s slight "’Araby’ and Portrait: Stages of Pagan Conversion" is the notable exception), but, more fruitfully, it is compared to other Dubliners tales, as David W. Robinson, Earl Ingersoll, and Edward Cronin do in their more theoretical-based approaches, discussed later. apRoberts's article, in summary, is central to a symbolic reading of "Araby."

Later controversies in the symbolic approach focus on the structure of the plot and its possible allusion to various legends. Ben Collins, writing around the time of the Stone/apRoberts debate, argues that the text is governed by "extended similes," which are comparisons that "affect the total meaning of the work" (85). Collins is noteworthy for his attempts to guide Symbolist readings into the plot structure, but he fails to reach a conclusion. More modestly — and more successfully — Stephen Doloff’s recent articles briefly but powerfully make plot connections with Paradise Lost, Rousseau’s Confessions, and the life of Ignatious Loyola. Jerome Mandel wrote a notable article on the story’s relation to medieval romance, and John Freimarck wrote an equally illuminating article on the Grail motifs and their relationship to the plot.

Indeed, symbolic criticism of Joyce continues today, even if recent articles have a slightly more theoretical bent than, say, the earlier Explicator notes. For instance, Judith Barisonzi’s "Who Eats Pigs’ Cheeks?" updates Florence Walzl’s note on the matter by approaching it in the Marxist/Historicist vein and discussion the class connotations of those in Joyce’s day who ate pigs' cheeks. Even an Explicator note like John Harty’s alludes to the popular deconstructive idea of meaning existing in the margins, as he notes that fibs lead Joycean character towards epiphanies.

Several articles still follow Stone’s example in rooting the story’s symbols in history, notably Donald Torchiana, which wonderfully gives copious historical background for the real Araby fair, but doesn’t apply much to a reading of the story. Finally, Brugaletta and Hayden’s 1978 article "The Motivation for Anguish in Joyce’s ‘Araby’" begs for a response from apRoberts, being the same sort of "free-association fantasy" for which he chides Stone. The authors argue that Mangan’s sister was only a figment of the boy’s imagination, and they offer some slight discrepancies in the text, as well as events from other stories, as evidence. Despite apRoberts’s arguments, the search for symbolic meanings in "Araby" continues, in the above and other various forms.

Post-modernist theorists have not had a Stone/apRoberts argument over "Araby"; indeed, they seem to have only contributed the most basic of readings to the story. Indeed, one of the better theoretical writing on the story relates, in part, to some symbolism in the story. David Robinson’s 1987 "The Narration of Reading in Joyce’s ’The Sisters,’ ‘An Encounter,’ and ‘Araby’" utilizes a reader-response theory similar to that devised by Stanley Fish in Surprised By Sin: Robinson argues that the protagonist’s failure to interpret the signs of his impending failure are parallel to the reader’s failure to completely grasp the symbolism of the tale. This reading seems to compliment Collins’s "Extended Simile" by bringing in that Fishian "flawed reader" component that would have well served that article.

For the most part, however, the limited range of post-modern analysis of "Araby" concentrates on Lacanian analysis. Garry Leonard’s "The Question and the Quest" retells the story from the point of view of Mangan’s Sister (and indeed, his article is currently the closest we have to a sustained feminist reading of this story). He notes early on, "If she is not the protagonist of the story, can she be seen as the contagonist whose powerful absence makes the boy’s presence in his own narrative possible?", thus setting the theoretical basis for the entire article. Slipping easily into the lexicon of Lacan, Leonard argues that "the subject of ‘Araby’ is the desire of Mangan’s sister in the sense that her function in the boy’s narration as absence and lack is what permits his subjectivity" (460). He then takes us through the Lacanian realms of the Real, Symbolic, and Other while positing Mangan’s sister as "The Woman"—which is, in Lacan, "a woman who appears to the masculine subject as feminine" (461). He then takes us through the story as Mangan’s sister "experiments with her ability to direct the boy’s gaze" by turning her bracelet (463); as her story is suppressed by the boy so he can tell his story (464); and finally as "the unspeakable dictates what gets spoken in a Maypole dance around the nonexistent phallus" (474). In short, Leonard touches on all the acceptable buzzwords of Lacanian theory, offering a kind of checklist reading of the story. For a Lacanian analysis, this is fairly lucid, and it approaches the text in much the same way as Harry Stone. Instead of looking for symbolic meaning, however, Leonard searches for a Lacanian paradigm.

In another Lacanian take, Earl Ingersoll finds the "absence" in the priest rather than Mangan’s sister. He argues that the priest is represented by nothing but his books, and this foregrounds the boy’s "immersion in textuality" (45). Building on Leonard’s article, Ingersoll shows how the story’s final sentence is also the boy’s immersion in "the Real." This is not a new reading of the story—many commentator allude to the disillusionment in that sentence—but Ingersoll dresses it in theoretical clothes by applying post-modern language to an already acknowledged approach to the story.

As noted above, there are theoretical elements in some symbolic readings of "Araby," but for the most part, this area has not been sufficiently exploited. There are no strong historicist readings, even though people like Torchiana have researched the background, and there have been no strong feminist approaches either. There are books on Dubliners with these theoretical bents, but, considering the many possibilities "Araby" offers for insightful criticism, there is still work needed to be done. One wonders if the story’s popular appeal has kept it from further theoretical analysis. Indeed, many of the approaches taken by the authors in the pedagogue group deal with post-modern criticism, but the story is used to illuminate the theory, not vice versa.

As mentioned before, "Araby" has become a standard text for introducing students to short fiction. The first major critics to deal with "Araby" were Cleaneth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren in their 1943 book Understanding Fiction. This brief section isolates many of the ideas that later critics would expand upon—romantic disillusionment, religious references, the difference between the male narrator and the boy protagonist, and so forth. Of course, their objective with Understanding Fiction was teaching readers how to explicate a story. Neither critic has their full critical powers engaged; indeed, they see the value in using "Araby" as a teaching tool. Of course, "Araby" appears in many textbooks, illustrating its value as an introduction to fiction. Susan Robbins’s article "Anguish and Anger" in the educational journal Virginia English Bulletin presents a plan for teaching adolescents this story along with James Baldwin’s "Sonny’s Blues," again asserting the value of this text in the classroom.

Perhaps it is that classroom accessibility that has also made this story a testing area for theorists. In 1966, John Russell and Richard Ohmann uses the story’s final sentence — a sentence responsible for a number of articles — as a reference point in a debate over what kinds of meaning can be found in a grammatical analysis of any text. One can contrast this with Anne Higham’s "An Aspect of Style in ‘Araby,’" a theoretical piece which argues that the narrator’s grammar informs the reader’s perception of the story. The former article is abstract literary criticism, and the later is applied literary criticism.

As one can see the beginnings of a theoretical debate in the argument between Stone and apRoberts, "Araby" has since been used as the locus for literary debate. Wayne Booth argues from apRoberts’s perspective as he lashes out against "intellectual responsibility" and "pseudo-critics" in "Pluralism and its Rival." After a few pages of lashing out against the swelling post-structural tide, he turns to a reading of "Araby." He argues that "there is a hard resistant core of fact about ‘Araby’ that will test what anyone wants to say about it," in opposition to the "complete skeptic or relativist [who] will say…that what ‘Araby’ seems to be it in fact is" (134-5). He further argues against relative meanings by mining this "commonsensical core of fact" and applying these to different approaches to literature (146). Booth’s point is that there will always be different readings to stories depending on how one approaches it, but one cannot deconstruct some essential facts at the heart of every story. Dogmatism is just as undesirable as total skepticism for Booth, and this article finds a happy medium between them. While Booth’s argument here could have applied to any story, he also manages to insightfully, if briefly, read the text through various techniques. Even though his goal is to properly harness post-structural criticism for college readers everywhere, he stumbles into a fairly interesting reading of the story itself.

"Araby" proved to be a fruitful training ground in a larger pedagogical project ten years after Booth. The Spring 1981 James Joyce Quarterly devoted a substantial portion of its space to the MURGE project, a collection of Miami University scholars who wanted to test a practical application of a story to Seymour Chatman’s book Story and Discourse. The project consisted of an article, "Analyzing ‘Araby’ as Story and Discourse" which contained the actual test, and several other articles which commented on the findings and the feasibility of Chatman’s ideas. The central article seems to take Booth’s "commonsensical core" and break it down to minute parts; a comparison to Roland Barthes’s S/Z is not unfair. The MURGE people isolate 27 plot-significant events; they isolate the sentence at which point the action in the story begins (the "story-now") as well as several other "temporal sequences" in the book. They identify two main characters in the narrator and the boy protagonist and list three traits of the former and twelve of the latter. Similarly, it analyses various aspects of the narrative, such as the point-of-view and narrative expression. Throughout, the article makes a point of describing, not interpreting, the text. The final section comes closest to an interpretation, as it argues against Freimarck’s and Mandel’s attempts to locate the story as a type of quest. All of this material is useful to a study of "Araby," although one would be correct in questioning the objectivity of every aspect of the project. Of course, the most important work of MURGE is not found here, but in the other articles reporting on their finding. In these, "Araby" is not a concern, and it takes a background to debate on Story and Discourse. However, the entire MURGE project illustrates the pedagogical use of "Araby," and, in a least one of the MURGE articles, how such a use can possibly illuminate the text.

In summary, there have been three main threads in "Araby" criticism since the early 1960s. The symbolic dominates, as critics have continued to find coded meanings in the story’s objects, characters, and plot. The theoretical has yet to really test this story, but there is little doubt that these post-structural techniques will account for some illuminating articles in the future. And the pedagogical approach has found "Araby" both a teaching ground for students and an accessible starting point for more complex theoretical endeavors. While these threads do overlap on occasion, they have all independently provided innovative approaches to "Araby."


apRoberts, Robert P. "'Araby' and the Palimpsest of Criticism." The Antioch Review 26 (1967): 469-489.

A stern rebuttal to Harry Stone’s article, apRoberts attacks the Academy’s reliance on interpreting stories using arcane symbolism that the average reader would not immediately discern. He defends the priest against Stone's accusation of corruption: apRoberts suggests the priest’s reading material is much more innocuous than Stone implies (and that Stone’s suggested author of The Devout Commandment is incorrect), and Stone’s questioning of the priest’s charity is not grounded in the text. The boy’s florin is coin money and symbolic of nothing more, again in opposition to Stone. Mangan’s sister is far from a harlot, and "Mangan"—a common Irish name—need not refer to James Clarence Mangan. Stone is incorrect in his assertion that the boy’s "anguish and anger" are emotionally out of proportion of the story’s events. Joyce’s details massively build the boy’s anticipation and lead to a similarly massive let-down.

Atherton, James S. "'Araby.'" In James Joyce's Dubliners. Clive Hart (ed.) London: Faber, 1969. 39-47.

"Story's autobiographical elements and precise, symbolic style." (From James Joyce: A Guide to Research by Rice)

Baechler, Leah. "Voices of Unexpected Lyricism in Two Dubliners Stories." James Joyce Quarterly 28:2 (Winter 1991): 361-276.

Focuses on the "non-narrative figurations" in "Araby" and "A Little Cloud." Using the example of a stage production of "Araby," Baechler illustrates how the multitude of voices from secondary characters—silence and ellipses, as well as words—characterize the boy and give nuance to this Realistic story. Examining the text’s heteroglassia, one sees parallels between characters (priest/uncle; aunt/Mangan’s sister). A heteroglassic reading demonstrates that some of the story's scenes represent different perspectives of similar events recorded by different voices (e.g., the parallel between the boy’s meeting with Mangan’s sister on the steps and the girl at the bazaar.)

Barisonzi, Judith. "Who Eats Pig Cheeks?: Food and Class in 'Araby.'" James Joyce Quarterly 28:2 (Winter 1991): 518-19.

Building upon Walzl's article on the significance of "pigs cheeks" in "Araby," Barisonzi finds evidence that pigs’ cheeks were a dietary staple of poor Irishmen. When the narrator spots the delicacy at the market, it reifies his "snobbish, petit-bourgeois perception" of the place as coarse and squalid.

Barta, Peter I. "Munkacsy's Ecce Homo and Joyce's 'Araby.'" The New Hungarian Quarterly 31:118 (1990 Summer) 134-137.

No abstract available.

Beck, Warren. Joyce's "Dubliners": Substance, Vision, and Art. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1969.

A basic exegesis of "Araby" as a story of romantic disillusionment, with some emphasis on possible autobiographical elements.

Benstock, Bernard. "Arabesques: Third Position of Concord." James Joyce Quarterly 5:1 (Fall 1967): 30-39.

"Comments on the interpretive problems in the story, epitomized in the controversy between apRoberts and Stone." (From James Joyce: A Guide to Research by Rice)

Blythe, Hal and Charlie Sweet. "Diptych in 'Araby': The Key to Understanding the Boy's 'Anguish and Anger.'" Notes on Modern Irish Literature 6 (1994): 16-18.

No abstract available.

Booth, Wayne C. "Pluralism and Its Rivals." In Now Don't Try to Reason with Me. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970. 131-49.

Concerned with the growing number of "pseudocritics" in the academy, Booth advocates an intellectual pluralism that can absorb different fields of critical study without entirely dismantling the text. Using "Araby" as a model, he discerns a "commonsensical core of fact"—the events that occur in the story. He then looks at these facts through Aristotelian, Platonic, Nietzchian, and Freudian perspectives, with varying degrees of sincerity.

Brooks, Cleanth and Robert Penn Warren. "Discussion [of 'Araby']." In Understanding Fiction. Brooks and Warren (eds.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1979.

A very basic student-oriented precise and interpretation of "Araby." The article touches upon how the story’s casual events have great significance, the narrator’s confusion of religious and romantic love, and the question of the narrator’s age and perspective. Discussion questions follow.

Brugaletta, John J. and Mary H. Hayden. "The Motivation for Anguish in Joyce's 'Araby.'" Studies in Short Fiction 15 (1978): 11-17.

Argues that Mangan’s Sister exists only as a created figment of the boy’s imagination. Mangan’s Sister should be older than the boy, yet her words to him seem oddly, unrealistically nervous, suggesting that the boy has created the scene. The time scheme of the story does not coincide with details. Other youthful Joycean narrators visualize non-existent persons, setting a precedent for "Araby." Ultimately, his vision of Mangan’s Sister fades when it is blended with the woman at the bazaar. Despite what some critics have argued, the boy’s anguish at the end is perfectly appropriate to the dismantling of his fantasy.

Burto, William. "Joyce's 'Araby.'" Explicator 25 (1967): Item 67.

A brief note on the symbolic significance of the boy’s failure to find a sixpenny entrance to the bazaar. Burto argues that such entrances are for children, and his ultimately entering the Schilling turnstile symbolizes the boy’s progression to maturity and manhood.

Chatman, Seymour. "Analgorithm." James Joyce Quarterly 18:3 (1981 Spring): 292-299.

See Sosnoski’s "The MURGE Project" below.

Collins, Ben L. "Joyce's 'Araby' and the 'Extended Simile.'" James Joyce Quarterly 4 (1967): 84-90.

An "extended simile"—Collins’s coinage—is a figure that links one item to another without equating them, and drawing numerous comparisons from them. Two such similes govern "Araby": the "wild garden," which, with its apple tree and bicycle pump, is likened to the Garden of Eden, but ultimately illustrates themes of love, religion, and paralysis. Mangan’s Sister is the focal simile; her name comes from the poet James Clarence Mangan, but she is alternately, momentarily compared to Dante’s Beatrica and Helen of Troy.

Coulthard, A.R. "Joyce's 'Araby.'" Explicator 52:2 (1994 Winter): 97-99.

No abstract available.

Cronin, Edward J. "James Joyce's Trilogy and Epilogue: 'The Sisters,' 'An Encounter,' 'Araby,' and 'The Dead.'" Renascence: Essays on Value in Literature 31 (1979): 229-48.

The first three "tales of childhood" that constitute Dubliners involve youthful protagonists who learn something. The lessons of these stories are reinforced in "The Dead." In "Araby," the boy is characterized similarly to the characters of the earlier tales. As in the earlier tales, the boy is fascinated by abstractions. When faced with a very real feeling for Mangan's Sister, his "foolish blood" and inability to separate reality from illusion lead to his downfall. Fictional images of himself and others are gradually undone in the story. There is no evidence that his disillusionment is the catalyst for a loss of religious faith. However, the boy posits himself as God by creating his fictions, and he also becomes the worshipper of his own creation. As this paradigm leaves him with nothing at the end, it is this mock-religious faith that is shattered.

Culler, Jonathan. "The Application of Theory." James Joyce Quarterly 18:3 (1981 Spring): 287-292.

See Sosnoski’s "The MURGE Project" below.

Dilworth, Thomas. "Yeats's Argument with Joyce in 'Ego Dominus Tuus.'" Review of English Studies: A Quarterly Journal of English Literature and the English Language 42:166 (1991 May): 232-34.

Yeats’ poem "Ego Dominus Tuus" disagrees with the Romantic disillusionment of "Araby." Verbal allusions and the Arabesque setting of the poem refer to the story. However, Yeats’s poem suggests that idealism need not be self-deception, which is an idea that contrast’s the boy’s epiphany in "Araby."

Doloff, Stephen. "Aspects of Milton's Paradise Lost in James Joyce's 'Araby.'" James Joyce Quarterly 33:1 (1995 Fall): 113-15.

The word "Arabie" appears in a Edenic allusion in Paradise Lost. The story’s final sentence alludes to Paradise Lost’s Belial, and contrasts the vanity of the fallen angels with the narrator’s own vain defeat. The bazaar’s hall refers to the hall of Satan’s council, and the self-deceptive acceptance of defeat in Belial’s final speech. Echoes Joyce’s similar attitude towards his "fallen" Dubliners.

Doloff, Steven. "On the Road with Loyola: St. Ignatius' Pilgrimage as Model for James Joyce's 'Araby.'" James Joyce Quarterly 28:2 (1991 Winter): 515-17.

The narrative of "Araby" alludes to the religious conversion and Pilgrimage of St. Ignatius Loyola. The narrator discusses his romantic pursuit of Mangan’s Sister in religious terms, while Loyola in his Testament discusses his religious pilgrimage in chivalric language. Both experiences end in failure, with the bazaar’s eminent closing paralleling Loyola’s expulsion from Jerusalem. However, Loyola ultimately triumphs when he founds the Jesuits, while the boy has no such subsequent triumph. The Loyola allusion, then, furthers the story’s motif of disillusionment.

Doloff, Steven. "Rousseau and the Confessions of 'Araby.'" James Joyce Quarterly 33:2 (1996 Winter): 255-58.

As "Araby" parallels St. Ignatius Loyola’s biography, it also echoes Rousseau’s Confessions. Both Rousseau and Joyce’s narrators live with their aunt and uncle, and each speak of an early elder love in chivalric terms. Their literary passions parallel, as do their self-conscious shame of their sexual desires.

Egan, Joseph J. "Romantic Ireland, Dead and Gone: Joyce's 'Araby' as National Myth." Colby Library Quarterly 15 (1979): 188-93.

No abstract available.

Elbarbary, Samir. "The Theme of Idealised Love in 'Araby.'" Journal of English 15 (1987 Sept): 58-67.

No abstract available.

Flynn, Elizabeth A. Gender and Reading. Flynn, Elizabeth A. (ed.); Schweickart, Patrocinio P. (ed.). Gender and Reading: Essays on Readers, Texts, and Contexts. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1986.

An article on gendered reading, using "Araby" as a model. The emphasis is on the nature of reading rather than literary analysis.

Freimarck, John. "'Araby': A Quest for Meaning." James Joyce Quarterly 7 (1970): 366-68.

There are echoes of the "Grail Quest story pattern" in "Araby." The story’s title, the quest and marriage theme, and the bazaar setting all allude to the Grail. However, the boy’s voyeurism and his failure to give the proper answer to the female jar-seller illustrate that, unlike the Medieval Knight, he is unprepared for his journey and doomed to failure.

Friedman, Stanley. "Joyce's 'Araby.'" Explicator 24 (1966): Item 43.

The allusion to "The Arab’s Farewell to his Steed" is meant to contrast the poem’s sentimentality with the disillusionment of "Araby." The Arab’s willingness to accept seeing his departed horse only in his dreams mirrors the boy’s farewell to his romantic illusions.

Fuller, James A. "A Note on Joyce’s ‘Araby.’" CEA Critic 20 (February 1958): 8.

No abstract available.

Garrison, Joseph M., Jr. "The Adult Consciousness of the Narrator in Joyce's 'Araby.'" Studies in Short Fiction 10 (1973): 416-17.

Commentators have often failed to note that Joyce’s narrator is an adult who brings a mature perspective to the story’s events. Ultimately, "Araby" is not about the narrator’s romantic disenchantment, but his ability to intellectually appreciate beauty. Contrasting the indiscriminate observations of the young boy with the objectivity of the adult writer, the narrator discovers the distinction between fantasy and imagination.

Going, William T. "Joyce's 'Araby.'" Explicator 26 (1968): Item 39.

Building upon Friedman’s note on "The Arab’s Farewell to his Steed," Going suggests that the poem illustrates the middlebrow, tacky reading tastes of the uncle. Joyce uses literary allusions to build characterizations throughout his work. The uncle’s sentimental taste, then, reveals his intellectual paralysis.

Hahn, H. George. "Tarsicius: A Hagiographical Allusion in Joyce's 'Araby.'" Papers on Language and Literature: A Journal for Scholars and Critics of Language and Literature 27:3 (1991 Summer): 381-85.

Another reading of St. Tarsicius as it applies to "Araby." Joyce’s schooling would have familiarized him with the saint. In Portrait, Stephen Daedalus compares himself to St. Stephen, who is a saint associated with Tarsicius. The boy, like Tarsicius, is presented as an orphan, and both tales end in a sacrifice.

Harty, John. "Joyce's 'The Dead.'" Explicator 47:3 (1989 Spring): 35-37.

The word "fib" occurs in "Araby" and "The Dead," and is it essential to epiphanies in each tale. D’Arcy’s fib in "The Dead" conceals (and reveals) his lack of self-confidence about his singing. The "fib" the boy hears at the fair is the catalyst for his disillusionment. For Joyce, lies often reveal hidden facts.

Hauge, Hans. "The Ambiguous Artistic Programme of 'Araby.'" Westarp, Karl-Heinz (ed.). Joyce Centenary Offshoots: James Joyce, 1882-1892. Aarhus, Denmark: Seklos, Dept. of Eng., Univ. of Aarhus, 1983. 47-52.

No abstract available.

Higham, Anne S. "An Aspect of Style in 'Araby.'" Language and Style: An International Journal 15:1 (1982 Winter): 15-22.

Noting the varying interpretations of "Araby," Higham suggests that the key to interpreting the story lies in its grammar and style. The narrator, when speaking in the first person with himself as subject, rarely uses a direct object, resulting in the impression of "objectless, disengaged activity." Secondary characters, however, often use a grammatical object. The narrator, then, is often the object of others’ actions. The narrator is controlled by naming abstractions and his own body as well. Personification intrudes the story, again representing forces that act upon the boy. The story’s final sentence breaks the narrator into an "I as character" and the more experienced "I as narrator."

Ingersoll, Earl G. Engendered Trope in Joyce's Dubliners. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 1996.

A Lacanian approach to the first three Dubliners stories. Relationship of the boy to the Priest is evidenced only in the Priest’s books—a mixture of religion and adventure, as is the story. The Priest, then, is a lack which anticipates the boy’s own "immersion in textuality." Joycean epiphany is a triumph via creating metaphor. When the Real of the darkened bazaar destroys the Imaginary Ideal of Mangan’s sister, the boy enters into the Symbolic realm of creating his own story. This triumph is illustrated by the narrator’s use of metaphor throughout "Araby."

Johnson, James D. "Joyce's 'Araby' and Romans VII and VIII." American Notes and Queries 13 (1974): 38-40.

"Araby" has thematic parallels to Romans VII and VIII. Romans warns against turning away from religion, turning towards the things of the flesh, and vanity, and there are all main themes in "Araby." The boy’s confusion of flesh and spirit, and his turning towards the Oriental, anti-Christian bazaar illustrates his failure to heed Romans. The story’s last line refers specifically to Roman’s passage on vanity.

Lang, Frederick K. "Rite East of Joyce's 'Araby.'" Journal of Ritual Studies 1:2 (1987 Summer): 111-120.

During his time in Trieste, Joyce became familiar with the rituals of the Eastern Orthodox Church. These rituals are reflected in "Araby," the most Triestian of all his stories. The boy’s worship on Mangan’s Sister is emblematic of Eastern Icons. The building housing the bazaar architecturally resembles an Eastern Church. Joyce may be critiquing the Eastern Church as well as the Irish Catholic Church.

Leonard, Garry M. "The Question and the Quest: The Story of Mangan's Sister." Modern Fiction Studies 35:3 (1989 Autumn): 459-477.

A Lacanian analysis in which Leonard argues that Mangan’s Sister’s frustrated desire to go to Araby propels the story. This desire is "Araby"’s subject, as it is the lack into which the narrator creates a Romantic myth of himself. Central is the boy’s gazing upon Mangan’s Sister, after which she approaches him to speak—the object thus redirects the subject’s gaze. By story’s end, the boy has turned this gaze upon himself, replacing his Romantic myth with a less flattering picture. He reinterprets the Other’s gaze, then, as her disappointment with the failure of the "hero."

Lyons, John O. "James Joyce and Chaucer's Prioress." English Language Notes 2 (1964): 127-32.

"Parallels between 'Araby' and the 'Prioress' Tale' as stories of initiation." (From James Joyce: A Guide to Research by Rice)

Mandel, Jerome. "Medieval Romance and the Structure of 'Araby.'" James Joyce Quarterly 13 (1976): 234-37.

"Araby" follows the traditional structure of a medieval Romance: the enfance, or description of the boy’s youth; the introduction of the lady; the commitment to a quest; and the quest itself. However, unlike its Medieval analogues, the boy apparently fails his quest. However, the adult narrator may be suggesting that the boy’s epiphany constitutes a successful conclusion.

Mandel, Jerome. "The Structure of 'Araby.'" Modern Language Studies 15:4 (1985 Fall): 48-54.

A slightly revised version of his James Joyce Quarterly (see above) article.

Morrisey, L. J. "Joyce's Narrative Strategies in 'Araby.'" Modern Fiction Studies 28:1 (1982 Spring): 45-52.

"Araby"’s strength lies in the narrator. Combining first and third person narratives illustrates the boy’s maturity; he gradually steps forward to tell his own tale. Joyce utilizes three "moods" of the narrator: the simple naif, the romantic, and the harsh, judging adult. The first two moods are very distinguishable, but never quite separated. The third voice acts as critical commentary on the first two.

Morse, Donald E. "'Sing Three Songs of Araby': Theme and Allusion in Joyce's 'Araby.'" College Literature 5 (1978): 125-32.

No abstract available.

Norris, Margot. "Blind Streets and Seeing Houses: Araby's Dim Glass Revisited." Studies in Short Fiction 32:3 (1995 Summer): 309-18.

No abstract available.

Peters, Margot. "The Phonological Structure of James Joyce's 'Araby.'" Language and Style: An International Journal 6 (1973): 135-44.

"Thematic and structural significance of 'sound patterns' in the story." (From James Joyce: A Guide to Research by Rice)

Prince, Gerald. "What's the Story in Narratology?" James Joyce Quarterly 18:3 (1981 Spring): 277-285.

See Sosnoski’s "The MURGE Project" below.

Robbins, Susan. "Anguish and Anger." Virginia English Bulletin 36:2 (1986 Winter): 59-61.

Compares "Araby" with James Baldwin’s "Sonny’s Blues." Robbins concludes that both stories are useful for students to read because they each illustrate how anger and anguish can lead to a personal understanding of freedom.

Robinson, David W. "The Narration of Reading in Joyce's 'The Sisters,' 'An Encounter,' and 'Araby.'" Texas Studies in Literature and Language 29:4 (1987 Winter): 377-396.

The failures of Joyce’s protagonists in Dubliners is related to the failure of the readers to fully control the text. "Blindness" is a core concept in "Araby", and the narrator fails to interpret tangible events in light of his idealistic imagination. Such misinterpretation can be seen in critics’ attempts to decipher the Garden of Eden reference in the "wild garden." The attempts of commentators to compare the rusty bicycle pump to Satan are "ridiculous," and such is the point: "The pump…deflates the allegorical afflatus which the combined hints about Eden have conjured in the mind of the reader."

Rosowski, Susan J. "Joyce's 'Araby' and Imaginative Freedom." Research Studies 44 (1976): 183-88.

"Boy merely adopts a 'new romantic role' at the story's end." (From James Joyce: A Guide to Research by Rice)

Russell, John and Richard Ohmann. "From Style to Meaning in 'Araby.'" College English 28 (1966): 170-171.

A rather technical linguistic debate using a sentence from "Araby." The focus is on the general issue of how much meaning one can find in sentence structure, rather than any interpretation of "Araby."

San Juan, Epifanio. James Joyce and the Craft of Fiction: An Interpretation of Dubliners. Cranbury, NJ: Associated University Presses, Inc., 1972.

A basic analysis of the structure of "Araby," focusing on how the story’s organizational principles influence meaning. "Araby" begins with external detail and description, slowly moving into the interiority of the boy. Ultimately, the story is told on two levels: one of the events happening to the boy, another of the more experienced narrator. The boy fails to immediately understand the events that happen to him, but the narrator obliquely refers their meanings to the reader.

Senn, Fritz. "Naming in Dubliners (a first methermeneutic fumbling)" James Joyce Quarterly XX:XX (19XX): 465-8.

Senn’s discussion of some significant names in Dubliners contains a brief discussion of "Araby." The narrator is fascinated this the foreign word "araby" as spoken by Mangan’s sister, so much so that he never actually names his love-object. As with the initial two stories in Dubliners, names generally blur, rather than reveal identities.

Skau, Michael; Cassidy, Donald L. "Joyce's 'Araby.'" Explicator 35:2 (1976): 5-6.

Notes that the narrator’s comment, "I bore my chalice safely through a throng of foes," is an allusion to St. Tarsicius, a boy martyr entrusted with the sacrament and killed for refusing to give it to heathens. This allusion provides a spiritual analogue to the oft-noted Romantic characteristics of the narrator.

Sosnoski, James J. (director); Barney, Rick; Flavin, James; Hinrichs, Lois; Kelly, Rachel; McMaken, Ruth; Olubas, Paul; Russell, Tim; Uhlman, Diana. "Analyzing 'Araby' as Story and Discourse: A Summary of the MURGE Project." James Joyce Quarterly 18:3 (1981 Spring): 237-254.

A group project in which "Araby" is read through Seymour Chatman's Story & Discourse. A linguo-scientific reading, it begins by listing 27 core "kernal" sequences in the story, and proceeds into the story's temporal frame. There are only two characters -- the boy and the narrator -- who are distinctly characterized while the remaining characters function as part of the setting. Identifies 12 character traits of the boy, three of the narrator. Overview of the project is followed by four related articles by Jonathan Culler ("The Application of Theory"), Gerald Prince ("What's the Story in Narratology?"), and James J. Sosnoski ("STORY AND DISCOURSE and the Practice of Literary Criticism: 'Araby,' A Test Case" and "On the Anvil of Theoretical Debate: STORY AND DISCOURSE as Literary Theory"), and a final commentary by Chatman ("Analgorithm")."

Sosnoski, James J. "On the Anvil of Theoretical Debate: Story and Discourse as Literary Theory." James Joyce Quarterly 18:3 (1981 Spring): 267-276.

See Sosnoski’s "The MURGE Project" above.

Sosnoski, James J. "Story and Discourse and the Practice of Literary Criticism: 'Araby,' a Test Case." James Joyce Quarterly 18:3 (1981 Spring): 255-265.

See Sosnoski’s "The MURGE Project" above.

Stein, William B. "Joyce's 'Araby': Paradise Lost." Perspective 12 (1962): 215-22.

"Eden myth in the story." (From James Joyce: A Guide to Research by Rice)

Stone, Harry. "'Araby' and the Writings of James Joyce." The Antioch Review 25 (1965): 375-410.

A lengthy exegesis of the symbolism of "Araby" and the story’s influence on Joyce’s later work. "Araby" is largely autobiography, as many of the story’s details come from Joyce’s life. Joyce works other literary works into his tale, notably Yeats’s The Celtic Twilight, DeQuincey’s "Levana and Our Ladies of Sorrow," and James Clarence Mangan’s "Dark Rosaleen." The boy’s language of "anguish and anger" is too strong compared to the trivial events that cause them. Blindness and commercialism are dominating themes throughout "Araby." The boy’s longing for Mangan’s Sister anticipates Portrait’s Birdgirl episode and Ulysses' "Nausicaa." Mangan’s Sister—who is, at the core, an Eve-like temptress-- is supposed to be "Dark Rosaleen." The boy sees in her both spirituality and commercialism, fatally confusing him. The fact that the bazaar is held in a church further conflates spirit and money. "Araby"’s triumph is that it is a simple story that has many layers of meaning hidden in its symbolic structure.

Torchiana, Donald T. Backgrounds for Joyce's Dubliners. Boston: Allen & Unwin, 1986.

Obstientably an analysis of how the boy’s disillusionment stems from his discovery of himself and other characters as "double agents," the article focuses more on historical details. Notably, it gives a comprehensive history of the May 1894 Araby festival, and background on Francois Eugene Vidocq. Suggests that the girl at the story’s end was Irish, and her contrast with the British boys suggests a English/Irish conflict.

Turaj, Frank. "'Araby' and Portrait: Stages of Pagan Conversion." English Language Notes 7 (1970): 209-13.

Stephen Dedalus’s birdgirl epiphany in Portrait and "Araby" both illustrates a character’s conversion from orthodox religion. Both stories use similar religious language and dark imagery, and each episode contains an epiphany inspired by a woman. However, "Araby"’s narrator lacks Stephen’s intellectual awareness, the narrator cannot yet realize Stephen’s refusal to serve organized religion.

Wells, Walter. "John Updike's 'A & P': A Return Visit to Araby." Studies in Short Fiction 30:2 (1993 Spring): 127-33.

Joyce’s influence on Updike has often been noted, but little attention has been paid to the similarities between "A&P" and "Araby." Updike’s protagonist, Sammy, becomes smitten with a lady in the supermarket. Later Joyce’s narrator, he becomes disoriented by the attraction. The physical characteristics of the desired female are similar, and both stories evoke Bunyan’s Vanity Fair for the climactic setting. Both protagonists make ultimately fruitless promises, but in Sammy’s case, his promise to quit the store has greater consequences. With its modern setting, Sammy’s epiphany is necessarily more ambivalent.



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