The Dead, by James Joyce

Book fanatics all over the world have read many of James Joyce's novels, poetry, and articles. This short story only had fifty reviews on Amazon, and I thought maybe it needed a look.

The Dead

Set in Ireland, this story has been published in Dubliners, as part of a short story collection and separately. Mr. Joyce creates a large cast of characters, great dialog- he's really a master at this- and tension that slowly works it's way through one particular character, Gabriel Conroy. 

In, The Dead Mr. Joyce's characters notice everything about each other, simple smiles, quaint frowns, and you sense this as the voyeur, while the conversations go from serious to whimsical with ease. It's easy to place yourself in the dancing room or at the dinner table during the evening party with this cast of piano instructors, uncles who tip the bottle, proper cousins, jealous women, spinster aunts, and maids with harbored tension.
About half-way through, Mr. Conroy makes a speech, that considering the timeline of the story, from early 1900's, could easily be made today. Here's a quote from that speech. "A new generation is growing up in our midst, a generation actuated by new ideas and new principles. It is serious and enthusiastic for these new ideas and its enthusiasm, even when it is mis-directed, is, I believe, in the main sincere."
Later in the speech, Mr. Conroy takes a soft somber tone, but his words are relevant and timely once again. "Our path through life is strewn with many such sad memories: and were we to brood upon them always we could not find the heart to go bravely with our work among the living."

As you read, The Dead, a thought enters your mind concerning the title. The story is very lively, not morbid as the title suggests, But it gets deep into your thoughts and soul as you travel to a hotel with Greta and Gabriel after the party is over. The sexual tension. A passage from the story. "He longed to cry to her from his soul, to crush her body against his, to overmaster her." Gabriel's  ill-timed thoughts, and inaction terrorize his emotions that become fueled by jealousy.
In the end he makes conclusions that I feel would ultimately help him go on with his life. You can decide. For Greta, there's a release of deeply held emotions that get triggered early in the evening at the party by a song. And the song brings back a flood of memories that she remains quiet and subdued, until she recounts the story of her first love.

Stop Back On 2/15/2017 For My Next Post

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