After the Race

Synopsis of After the Race

Jimmy Doyle is the son of a rich and successful Dublin butcher and has been to school and university in Dublin and Cambridge.  He has taken part in a motor race through the streets of Dublin, sitting in the back of a car owned by his French friend Ségouin, Ségouin’s cousin and a Hungarian called Villona. Jimmy, encouraged by his father, is planning to invest in Ségouin’s motor business.

After the race, the four friends, joined by an Englishman called Routh, dine at Ségouin’s hotel.  They meet an American called Farley who invites them to join him on his yacht, moored in the harbour.  They drink a great deal and begin to play cards for money.  As day breaks Jimmy is in despair because he knows he has lost a lot of money.

Commentary on After the Race

Magazine spread of Gordon Bennett cup teams 1903, image available through Creative CommonsAfter the Race The 370-mile Gordon Bennett road race was held annually, running mostly through County Kildare to the south-west of Dublin.  In the story Joyce refers to the race held on 2 July 1903.

their friends, the French Historically, the Irish thought of the French as their Catholic allies against the English. In 1690 survivors of the Battle of the Boyne, in which the Protestant King William III defeated the forces of the Catholic King James II, took refuge in France.  At the end of the next century, French forces joined the Irish nationalist Wolfe Tone (1763-98) in his planned uprisings in 1796 and 1798 (see Historical context).  

Gallicism The kind of lively behaviour popularly attributed to the French. 

advanced Nationalist An especially committed supporter of the movement for Irish independence from English Rule.

police contracts At the time the story is set, Dublin had two police forces, the Dublin Metropolitan Police and the Royal Irish Constabulary.  Both forces supported the British rule of law, a fact which hasn’t stopped Jimmy’s mildly nationalist father from making a profit from them.

a big Catholic school It’s probable that Joyce is referring to Stonyhurst in Lancashire, run by the Jesuits. 

Dublin University This refers to Trinity College, Dublin which at this time was associated with the English Protestant ruling elite.  Catholics had been allowed to attend the college, but required special permission from a Catholic bishop in order to do so.

Cambridge With Oxford, Cambridge is one of the two great ancient universities in England.  Someone like Jimmy, who had studied at Trinity College, would have had no difficulty in spending a term at Cambridge, in spite of his lack of academic distinction.  To be able to describe himself as ‘a Cambridge man’ would have given him a great social advantage.

electric candle lamps Electric bulbs in the shape of candles, suggesting that this is a ‘posh’ hotel – or one that would like to be thought ‘posh’.

the English madrigal … old instruments The madrigal was a song in several parts, popular during the reign of Elizabeth 1 (1558-1603).  It was enjoying a revival at the time the story was written, together with the instruments, such as the lute and viol, with which it was often accompanied.  It’s ironical that Villona, a Hungarian, knows more about this music than his English companion.

the mask of a capital A deeply political observation.  Dublin was the capital of Ireland but since the Act of Union in 1801 (see historical context) the country had been governed from London.

Cadet Roussel  A marching song about a volunteer in the French republican army in the years after the French Revolution of 1789.

vraiment (French) ‘truly’.  The line is part of the song’s refrain. 

Bohemian Bohemia is a region in the country formerly known as Czechoslovakia.  The term was used to describe the unconventional (and probably immoral) behaviour associated with various kinds of artists, writers and musicians, especially in Paris, itself thought of as wicked city.

The Belle of Newport Farley’s yacht is named after Newport in Rhode Island, where many rich Americans moored their boats.

Investigating After the Race...

  • In what ways does After the Race deal with newness and the modern age?
  • What role(s) does money play in After the Race?
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