goddamn is this good it's those last two pages you hit those two pages and WHAM! if it doesn't destroy you, then you just ain't human. My first James Joyce.Oh my.It's Christmas in Dublin The snow is falling The guests have finally all arrived There is wine, dancing and gossipy conversation A huge meal is presented, followed by a speech And then, it's time to go, but.Someone is singing, you can barely hear him He sees a woman, his wife, in shadows at the top of the steps listening He is surprised by her stillness, the mystery of her attitude.The husband recalls memories of their early love, their honeymoon, longing to rekindle the flame of long ago.Back at the hotel room, she kisses him lightly He wonders if she feels his passion for her He holds her head between his hands and asks softly: Gretta dear, what are you thinking about? And she tells himFrom editors notes: A modern parable of the rivalry between the living and the dead March 26 Update: Well done movie! The setting and dress so atmospheric of a snowy 1904 Dublin, and wonderfully executed heartfelt end. Often cited as the best work of short fiction ever written, Joyce's story details a New Year's Eve gathering in Dublin that is so evocative and beautiful that it prompts the protagonist's wife to make a shocking revelation to her husband—closing the story with an emotionally powerful epiphany that is considered one of the best in modern literature snow was general all over IrelandI am in DFW airport on a layover eating an execrable meal from a forgettable restaurant, punch drunk from too much air travel over the past 24 hours and emotionally frayed at having dropped my daughter off with her mother after spending a fabulous week with her in San Francisco I'm chewing tasteless food while looking into the restaurant with the glassyeyed, 1000 yard stare of the weary traveler A family of four takes the table directly in my line of sight; the mother loops the arm of a book bag around the back of her chair The canvas tote is loaded with short sentences from some of Western literature's most famous books I read them in order, recognizing The Scarlet Letter, Wuthering Heights, A Tale of Two Cities, etc I feel smug pride whilst masticating mashed potatoes But there is one quote that is unrecognizable: snow was general all over Ireland I guess it is Joyce, or perhaps Beckett; I type the sentence into Google and find that it is a Joyce novella, not from his Big Two a story from Dubliners, a collection I have read twice and liked neither time I've been reading Proust for hours; I decide to give Marcel a break and try this Joyce story onceYes, the third time is the charm.I don't want to spoil anything about the story by giving a plot synopsis (it is a fast read 30 minutes, tops and is available for free online); the resonance of the story, where Joyce finally spoke to me, occurs in the last 500 words With a light touch, and a wonderful narrative twist, Joyce reminds the reader that we all live under the shadow of the dead From the memory and legacy of our departed family to the meal we just ate, the ubiquity of death is what gives weight to life Joyce uses a death in the story to bring clarity to one of the story's characters and as readers we get to witness the unfurling of the blossom of knowledge, perhaps even some measure of wisdom, that occurs from grappling with The Dead Snow was general all over Ireland Yes, snow, and by extension winter, are the symbols here for death and their state of being generally all over is a reminder that we don't escape death, and that it is a necessity for life to exist And so as I finished this novella at 36,000 feet somewhere over New Mexico, I went back and reread the last pages a couple of times and realized that it isn't just that snow was generally all over Ireland, snow was General all over Ireland Death marshals its forces, it leads in battle, it conquers We may hate it but we all must come to terms with it sooner or later Much as Gabriel was forced to do in this brilliant work. Drinking too much can turn you into an emotional hot mess Being in love can do that to you too.Being in love and drinkingWell you would probably rather wish you were dead. The Dead is considered by many to be Joyce's best short story It is included in the short story collection, The Dubliners It is the last in the collection and long, almost novella length It's very different from Ulysses, very melancholic and introspective in nature. I listened to a terrific audio recording, found here alongside my Kindle edition of this and it truly brought the story to life.This novella is the last to feature in Joyce's infamous collection, Dubliners, and is cited as his greatest masterpiece The story develops during a New Year's Eve party, thrown by the Morkan sisters, where the frivolities and festivities of the night act as a catalyst for one of the attendants to make a shocking revelation to her husband The story progressed slowly and it wasn't until the last few hundred words that the utter genius was revealed This is ultimately a very melancholic piece, where the end portion contained the entire illusory and introspective morality This was sublime in its whimsical elegance and subtle revelation of truth A true masterpiece. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Younger me, the 18yearold college kid in 2005 who was too scared to read this story for his film class and chose an alternate project, adapting a small scene from a thenfavorite book into a short screenplay, insteadwas an idiot.Because this story is brilliant, and it knocks me senseless every time, and yet my stupid teenage fear of James Joyce's work kept me from reading it for years Granted, it meant that I didn't have to write a dumb comparative essay on the book and the film (which I've also come to love), but that script I wrote, based on a scene from the fantasy novel Sir Apropos of Nothing by Peter David, was 19 pages long The essay itself probably only needed to be a few pages All that work I did to avoid Joyce, and The Dead still managed to get me in the end.Next up: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man And maybe I'll read all of Ulysses this Bloomsday, instead of just a few pages. James Joyce's The Dead is a deceptively brilliant story! While the dinner party where most of the action takes place isn't always riveting, everything is important By the waning hours of the evening, you feel the full force of all the details from the party in Gretta Conroy's conversation with her husband, Gabriel Gretta recounts the story of a former now dead boyfriend whose memory has been evoked by the party In the space of a few minutes, Gabriel's world is turned upside down as he thinks about the dead who are now living as memories in all of us, and how we'll all pass into that territory One by one, they were all becoming shades Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age. As with life, there are the small experiences so basic and common to most people that evokes a primal force from deep within One of them of course is the family gettogether, especially at Christmas time, a time where affecting memories are brought to the surface, of loved ones no longer here Through all the chitchat, artifices, tensions, jokes, warmth, laughter, and faithful hugs, however brief these moments are, there is a poignant notion stirred by the knowledge that we all come from somebody, and most of the somebodies we come from happen to be dead James Joyce has penned a beautifully crafted narrative which could be viewed as either a long shortstory or a short Novella, dealing with themes of love and loss as well as raising questions about the nature of the Irish identity, something that is strongly pointed out here Set during the festive period, it's the Morkans annual Christmas dinner party at their upstairs rooms in Dublin, an event Aunt Julia and Aunt Kate, and their niece Mary Jane, have hosted in sumptuous style for 30 years Their regular guests for this sumptuous gathering include nephew Gabriel Conroy and his wife Gretta; Mr Browne, a dear friend even if he is Protestant; the dependably inebriated Freddy Malins and his longsuffering mother, Mrs Malins; and therecent arrivals, the testy nationalist Miss Molly Ivors and the opera singer Bartell D’Arcy All are here, in high spirits for what should be another splendid evening in each others company.It may be 1904, but they do no different to what families everywhere have done since, they gather around feeling merry, sing and dance, tell jokes and stories They reminisce, demur shyly from compliments, and share fluttering covert anxieties and brief bitter memories Gabriel, who I guess could be seen as the main character, will rise at the end of the dinner table to make his annual florid speech The main difference this year is that Julia’s weak spells arepronounced, and Gretta is held in unusual reveries Earlier, Miss Ivors rattles Gabriel on his Irish identity, as he publishes weekly a literary column in a newspaper with unionist sympathies He becomes disaffected, and retreats into himself, and now is bothered by his impending speech By the end of the evening, as guests filter out, and goodbyes are said, Gretta appears lost in thought with a deep sense of melancholy, whilst Gabriel is looking forward to some intimate time spent with his wife at a hotel Gretta's lack of interest though during their stay is down a piece of music heard during the party, being reminded of a young man from her youth And this is where in her mind, the dead come back to life.Joyce’s crystalline prose, along with some wonderfully observed dialogue had me in awe, it was all the little subtleties that made the biggest differences making for a scintillating read which confronted the fragility of the human spirit, and our relationship with the souls and memories of the Dead As shortstories go, it's damn near perfection.