The Dead

thedeadThe Dead
by James Joyce
1914? / 40 pages
rating 10 (reread)

Another group chose this for their reading selection and although I wasn’t going to reread it I got tempted and pulled  Dubliners off the shelf and started in.   Then I found it online in hyperlinked format  and since I was very familiar with the story anyway,  I used that.  The links are really only brief annotations and the work is a classic,  from a very different tine and place – I have absolutely no qualms about that on a second reading.

Here’s my old review of the whole of Dubliners from last year – that was a reread, too, so it focused on the windows instead of the whole thing.   This time was a better reading of just the last story, a novella,  The Dead.  

And what did I find?   I saw more clearly how impressive the work is – there is so much love and it shows in the details.  Every word is meaningful – every word leads back to the title (imo).  This is more than a “short story,”  it has enough in it to be read as a whole novel which is why I give it its own entry.

And I looked up some more info in general –

* Joyce wrote this while he and Nora were in “exile” in Rome.  I think that’s reflected in the tone of nostalgia – homesickness almost.

* The Morkan’s party takes place in a home very, very similar to that of Joyce’s old Dublin aunties.  Feasting on “The Dead” at the Milwaukee JS Online. 

MJS gather18_literaryJoyce.jpg

The black and white water color by artist William Bock of the Irish holiday dinner described in James Joyce’s “The Dead” appears in a new edition of the novella published this month by Paravion Press.”

* Michael Furey was based on Michael Feeny an old lover of Nora who had died of typhoid and of whom she told Joyce later.

* There is so much music in “The Dead,”  but it’s mostly old music – even to them.  Joyce was an incredible tenor and this is more evidence of his homesickness.  And the subjects of the tunes used are love and death.


Other things:

Status is important  –   Garbiel is successful and he worries that his speech is “above”  his listeners so he changes it.   Also,  he and Gretta are staying at a rather posh hotel and they have the goloshes  (European) which are important for keeping snow (nature? death?)  out.

This is such a straight-forward middle class family – the aunts are proud that Gabriel’s father worked at the port (equivalent to the post office per the notes).  Gabriel is forward-looking what with his university education,  the European goloshes and all – and he wants to get the snow off him and keep it off him and Gretta – he likes his polished-up shoes.   But he sees the snow out the windows all through the story.  At one point he wishes he were out in it – how cool and pleasant it would be.  (Imo,  the windows are important all through the whole of Dubliners but I’ve never read anything to substantiate or validate my ideas –  see my Dubliners post.)

Lily is of the lower classes but she’s getting kind of uppity – perhaps a budding feminist  – besides,  she’s “the caretaker’s daughter”  – a left-over from a  possibly by-gone era – and she’s quite young,  of the upcoming generation.  The “caretaker” (without a name)  appears briefly –

This is an excellent site with short podcasts illuminating various aspects of The Dead.  JoycesDublin 

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