James Joyce's “Dubliners” and Sherwood Anderson's “Winesburg, Ohio” are two of the most famous examples for short story cycles. Both collections were published at the beginning of the 20th century (Dubliners in 1914 and Winesburg, Ohio in 1919). One could guess that both collections deal with the same topics and themes due to the fact that their publication has taken place within five years, and this theory is particularly right. In addition to that the setting seems to be similar, because both collections of short stories take place in one town with a set of different characters. During my elaboration I am going to present the main themes and imageries of the two collections as well as compare the setting within these short story cycles. These two aspects will be the basis for my comparison of the two short story collections.
2) Comparison of the setting
The first aspect I am going to look at is the setting of the two collections. The first accordance can be found in the names of the collections, which interestingly function as the place of action. “Winesburg, Ohio” takes place in a fictional town named Winesburg in Ohio. The town has several similarities to the actual town of Clyde in Ohio, in which the author, Sherwood Anderson, has grown up. All the stories in the collection are either located in Winesburg or have their beginning respectively their end in this town. Every story is connected to the biggest street in this fictional town, called Main street, which is almost described as a character more than just a simple street. The second mentioned street in the collection is the Back street, which is described as darker and grittier than the Main street. The Back street is the place, where most of the actions happen, that the public eye is not supposed to see. The last aspect of setting, which increases the importance of the Main street as well, is the fact that Winesburg is a small town, where people know each other.
James Joyce's “Dubliners” shares a lot of these aspects but differs in several as well. The first difference is in fact the city itself. While Winesburg is a small fictional town in the United States, Dublin is a real town and the capitol of Ireland. Furthermore we can assume that Dublin at the beginning of the 20th century was still much bigger than Winesburg was supposed to be. In contrast to the setting of the stories in “Winesburg, Ohio”, the stories of “Dubliners” all take place in Dublin, and do not leave this setting. The last interesting aspect that meets the eye is the fact that the stories are not bound to a street, like the Main street in “Winesburg, Ohio”, but are spread all over the town of Dublin. Thus the setting is not limited and there is enough space, the stories do not need to leave Dublin.