Dubliners' IOU: The Aesthetics of Exchange in "After the Race" and "Two Gallants"

This essay argues that "After the Race" and "Two Gallants" narrate the psychological functions of capital in order to develop an economy of language and text. Desire is intimately tied to the objects of exchange and their contingent values. Focusing on the split nature of the commodity—as material object that refers to the immaterial form of exchange value—together with Georg Simmel's theory of exchange, the essay first shows how a psychology of loss in the stories expresses the imbalances of exchange that structure the production of surplus. It then argues that early Joycean narrative employs this contradiction of capitalist exchange by repeatedly staging the arrest of circulation and desire. Finally, this narrative tension is read as a way of redefining the relationship between epiphany and inter-textuality in the modernist textual economy of Dubliners.