In the Preface of her Norton Critical Edition book of James Joyce’s Dubliners (2006), Margot Norris (University of California, Irvine) says, “James Joyce’s Dubliners is arguably one of the most famous collections of short stories written in English. In their own day, these stories were applauded for their ‘style of scrupulous meanness,’ as Joyce called it, and for their thematic seriousness in presenting a direct and penetrating view of the city of Dublin in the modernity of the early twentieth century.”
When describing the benefits of teaching Dubliners, she says,
For getting students to go beyond considerations of theme, and beyond consideration of style, even, to think about how textuality itself works, it would be difficult to find a better curriculum than Dubliners. The stories can be taught in a way that makes narration opaque rather than transparent to them and obliges them to interpret the narrative operation itself. The stories can help them see fiction as a text, as a bundle of dynamic meaning-producing strategies that put various possible, and often conflicting, interpretations into destabilizing and productive play. And the stories can help students to read self-reflectively, to think about how the text positions them as readers and provides them with prompts or invites their resistance, Dubliners can lead students into the act of reading as a meaning-producing process rather than as merely confrontation with a meaning-laden product.
This is exactly I always think our readers should do in the reading, that is, be part of the text to experience the process together with the text, instead of acting as a spectator to try to comprehend what is going on or what the text is trying to say.
That’s the reason I especially appreciate what Margot Norris did in her edition to provide “The Text of Dubliners“, together with “Contexts” which includes the history, maps, photographs, etc. related to each story/text, what we Discourse Analysts ardently promote.