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.
* 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.
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