The Day of the Rabblement

Joyce became interested in contemporary drama while at university. He praised naturalist plays for their acceptance of life “as we see it,” and people “as we meet them.” The Irish Literary Theatre, spearheaded by the writers W. B. Yeats and Lady Gregory, was by then exclusively devoted to Irish plays. Joyce’s essay “The Day of the Rabblement” disparaged the project for its lack of cosmopolitanism. One pronouncement points to his life’s trajectory: “A nation which never advanced so far as a miracle-play affords no literary model to the artist, and he must look abroad.” When his school’s magazine refused to print the essay, Joyce and Francis Skeffington, whose submission had also been rejected, self-published this pamphlet.

F. J. C. Skeffington (1878–1916) and James Joyce (1882–1941)
Two Essays: “A Forgotten Aspect of the University Question” and “The Day of the Rabblement”
Dublin: [printed for the authors by] Gerrard Bros., 1901
The Morgan Library & Museum, gift of Sean and Mary Kelly, 2018; PML 197770