The description of A Modest Proposal
D.., by James Joyce & A Modest Proposal, by Jonathan Swift
A MODEST PROPOSAL
For preventing the children of poor people in Ireland,
from being a burden on their parents or country,
and for making them beneficial to the publick.
by Dr. Jonathan Swift
Between 1905, when Joyce first sent a manuscript to a publisher, and 1914, when the book was finally published, Joyce submitted the book 18 times to a total of 15 publishers. The book's publishing history is a harrowing tale of persistence in the face of frustration. The London house of Grant Richards agreed to publish it in 1905. Its printer, however, refused to set one of the stories ("Two Gallants"), and Richards then began to press Joyce to remove a number of other passages that he claimed the printer also refused to set. Joyce protested, but eventually did agree to some of the requested changes. Richards eventually backed out of the deal. Joyce thereupon resubmitted the manuscript to other publishers, and about three years later (1909) he found a willing candidate in Maunsel & Roberts of Dublin. Yet, a similar controversy developed and Maunsel too refused to publish it, even threatening to sue Joyce for printing costs already incurred. Joyce offered to pay the printing costs himself if the sheets were turned over to him and he was allowed to complete the job elsewhere and distribute the book, but when Joyce arrived at the printers they refused to surrender the sheets. They burned them the next day. Joyce managed to save one copy, which he obtained "by ruse". He then returned to submitting the manuscript to other publishers, and in 1914 Grant Richards once again agreed to publish the book, using the page proofs saved from Maunsel as copy.
"The Sisters" – After the priest Father Flynn dies, a young boy who was close to him and his family deals with his death superficially.
"An Encounter" – Two schoolboys playing truant encounter an elderly man.
"Araby" – A boy falls in love with the sister of his friend, but fails in his quest to buy her a worthy gift from the Araby bazaar.
"Eveline" – A young woman weighs her decision to flee Ireland with a sailor.
"After the Race" – College student Jimmy Doyle tries to fit in with his wealthy friends.
"Two Gallants" – Two con men, Lenehan and Corley, find a maid who is willing to steal from her employer.
"The Boarding House" – Mrs Mooney successfully manoeuvres her daughter Polly into an upwardly mobile marriage with her lodger Mr Doran.
"A Little Cloud" – Little Chandler's dinner with his old friend Ignatius Gallaher casts fresh light on his own failed literary dreams. The story also reflects on Chandler's mood upon realising that his baby son has replaced him as the centre of his wife's affections.
"Counterparts" – Farrington, a lumbering alcoholic scrivener, takes out his frustration in pubs and on his son Tom.
"Clay" – The old maid Maria, a laundress, celebrates Halloween with her former foster child Joe Donnelly and his family.
"A Painful Case" – Mr Duffy rebuffs Mrs Sinico, then, four years later, realises that he has condemned her to loneliness and death.
"Ivy Day in the Committee Room" – Minor politicians fail to live up to the memory of Charles Stewart Parnell.
"A Mother" – Mrs Kearney tries to win a place of pride for her daughter, Kathleen, in the Irish cultural movement, by starring her in a series of concerts, but ultimately fails.
"Grace" – After Mr Kernan injures himself falling down the stairs in a bar, his friends try to reform him through Catholicism.
"The Dead" – Gabriel Conroy attends a party, and later, as he speaks with his wife, has an epiphany about the nature of life and death. At 15–16,000 words this story has also been classified as a novella. The Dead was adapted into a film by John Huston, written for the screen by his son Tony and starring his daughter Anjelica as Mrs. Conroy.