Thirteen ink drawings on display at the James Joyce Centre in 2015 were produced in 2014 by the American illustrator Robert Berry to mark the centenary of James Joyce’s Dubliners. The drawings were commissioned by the James Joyce Centre to accompany a special edition of ‘The Dead’ produced by the fine art publishing house Stoney Road Press of Fairview, Dublin. The book is letterpress printed by hand on a Swiss proofing press and includes an introduction by Senator David Norris.
‘The Dead’, the final and longest story of James Joyce’s collection Dubliners, is recognised as one of the most accomplished short stories in the English language and stands as a deft, subtle portrait of everyday life in turn-of-the-century Dublin.
Unfolding over an evening in early January 1904, the story takes as its subject the epiphanic revelations of Gabriel Conroy. The tale also presents an affectionate portrait of the social life of Joyce’s city, presenting an unforgettable cast of characters who have gathered at 15 Ushers Island for the Misses Morkan’s annual musical gathering. Following the party Gabriel and his wife Gretta retire to the Gresham Hotel. Peering out at the snow through a window of the hotel, Gabriel is faced with the realisation that the shallowness of his feelings for his wife have been overshadowed by the ghostly presence of her former sweetheart Michael Furey. The scene is both a beautiful rendering of one man’s spiritual awakening and a significant moment which deepens the structural unity of a collection concerned with the moral and metaphysical paralysis of a people.
Celebrating its centenary in 2014, Joyce’s Dubliners had a difficult beginning. Joyce struggled to have his collection published over nine years, submitting the book eighteen times to a total of fifteen publishers. Writing to the book’s eventual publisher Grant Richards in 1906, Joyce stated that his 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 be the centre of paralysis.” This is perhaps best articulated in his masterful ‘The Dead’.
His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.
In this exhibition we see the iconoclastic American photographer Lee Miller traverse a desolate, post-War Dublin in 1946, capturing streets and buildings that were connected to Joyce’s life and work. This exhibition contains 60 previously unseen images that were to form part of Miller’s assignment for Vogue that would be published the following year. These images include some important Joycean locations that were thought never to have been photographed, such as the family’s first Northside address on Hardwicke Street as well as detailed interior portraits of Barney Kiernan’s pub, setting for the Cyclops episode in Ulysses.
Following a list given to her by Constantine Curran, the author of the accompanying article as well as a close friend and confidante of Joyce’s. Miller photographed numerous places and people, many but not all, with a Joycean connection. The pictures provide a remarkable record, not just of Joyce’s home town, but of a Dublin that was soon to begin changing rapidly, featuring many well-known landmarks.
About Lee Miller:
American photographer, Lee Miller, began her career as a fashion model in New York City in the 1920’s and became a freelance photographer for Condé Nast. Later, she travelled to Paris where she assisted and collaborated with artist Man Ray while establishing her own practice as a fashion and fine art photographer. After spending time in Egypt in the 1930’s, Lee found herself in England when the Second World War broke out and soon became one of a handful of female war correspondents. Miller photographed for Vogue Magazine, embarking on a career that would span from 1939 – 1953. Working for Vogue in the 1940’s she covered the London Blitz, and later the battle of Saint Malo, the liberation of Paris and the concentration camps, Buchenwald and Dachau.
The exhibition, which is curated by Peggy Sue Amison with Terence Killeen and Mark Traynor, is being organised by the James Joyce Centre, Dublin in partnership with Antony Penrose, Lee’s son, and the Lee Miller Archives with the generous support of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and Dublin City Council.