“He asked himself what is a woman standing on the stairs in the shadow listening to distant music, a symbol of.”
Often cited as the best work of short fiction ever written, Joyce’s elegant story details a New Year’s Eve gathering in Dublin that is so evocative and beautiful that it prompts the protagonist’s wife to make a shocking revelation to her husband—closing the story with an emotionally powerful epiphany that is unsurpassed in modern literature.
JAMES JOYCE was born in Dublin in 1882, the oldest of ten children in a Catholic family. He attended Jesuit schools and, in 1904, moved first to Trieste, then Paris, with Nora Barnacle; they married in 1931. After publishing his first novel, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, in 1916, Joyce developed glaucoma, and his eyesight steadily diminished for the rest of his life. His seminal novel Ulysses was published by his friend Sylvia Beach out of her Paris bookstore, only to be banned in the U.S and elsewhere due to charges of indecency. Fleeing the Nazi invasion of France, Joyce died in Zurich in 1941.