“The Dead”

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					“The Dead”

24 March 2009
               James Joyce
• Born 1882, one of twelve children; father took
  family fortunes from prosperity to near poverty.
• 1888 and 1893: sent to Jesuit schools
  (imagination informed by Catholic education;
  disillusionment with Catholicism in Portrait)
• 1898: University College (Dublin) (Catholic
  University as an alternative to Protestant Trinity
• 1902: Paris to study medicine
              Influences (1)
• “I am the servant of two masters… an English
  and an Italian… and a third there is who wants
  me for odd jobs” (Stephen Dedalus in Ulysses);
  shaped by his Irish Catholic upbringing and the
  cultural repression of the Irish by the ruling
• Charles Stewart Parnell (Irish nationalist and
  political leader of the Irish parliamentary
  Delegation; leader of the Irish Home Rule
  Movement, but not a Catholic)
                 Influences (2)
• Contemporary Irish Literature (William Butler Yeats and
  the Celtic revival, Irish myths, legends, and heroes)
• [1922: the founding of the Irish Free State]
• P. 30-33: Gabriel’s dialogue with Miss Ivors; Aran is
  where Synge’s Riders to the Sea is set).
• Supported Yeats and his colleagues’ right to express
  themselves, but thought that the appropriate direction for
  Ireland was to join the European intellectual and cultural
  community (Odyssey, Shakespeare in Ulysses)
• Irish Parochialism.
              Oscar Wilde
• Stephen’s aestheticism in Portrait and
  Wilde’s theories (search for the beautiful,
  scorn of bourgeois society, love of the
  eccentric, etc.; Wilde’s theory of masks
  and fictions)
• 1904: met Nora Barnacle; published earlier
  versions of several stories in Dubliners. (“The
  Dead” completed in 1907).
• Many audiences in mind: Dublin’s drowsing
  citizens; Catholic hierarchy; Irish intellectual
  elite, British public.
• The reader, accompanied by the narrator-guide,
  sees the landscape of Dublin and is urged to
  think of the possibility of renewal.
• Renewal in “the Dead”, the last story?
• Blunted aspiration and frustration, crass materialism,
  sexual repression, drunkeness, moral idiocy
• 1904: submitted a story “A Portrait of the Artist”, which
  became Stephen Hero, and, after the completion of “The
  Dead” in 1907, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
• 1904: James and Nora (not married) leave Ireland; they
  settle in Trieste.
• Returned to Ireland twice (1909 and 1912)
• 1914: Serialisation of A Portrait in The Egoist; publication
  of Dubliners; began to write Ulysses
• (Stephen=first Christian martyr).
• 1920-1940: Paris; died in 1941 (Zurich).
• 1918-1920: Ulysses serialised in the American journal
  The Little Review
• 1922: Published as a book in Paris (1934 in the US)
• Ulysses (Stephen Dedalus, Leopold Bloom, Molly
  Bloom): June 16, 1904; at any random point in time, one
  can evoke through allusions what has been significant in
  human history; contemporary events acquire additional
  significance through connections to absent literary and
  historical figures (and viceversa); history as a series of
  concentric circles (Vico’s influence)
• Parallax: mathematical term that describes how an
  object can look different if perceived from different
• 1923: began to write “Work in Progress”, the
  book that became Finnegans Wake (1939).
• The first sentence starts in the middle and is the
  end of the sentence with which the novel ends.
• Based on the legend of drunken man who has
  fallen off a ladder and apparently dies, only to
  arise at his wake.
• Is Gabriel a figure who “falls off the ladder” of his
  hopes and illusions only to awaken and recover
  in his final epiphany the common humanity that
  binds human beings together?
   Backgrounds to “The Dead”
• The story began to take shape in Rome
• Michael Bodkin’s courting of Nora Barnacle
  (tubercolosis, sings in the rainy weather when
  Nora moves to Dublin)
• Rivalry with the dead man
• 1905 (Trieste): his brother send him the words of
  a song “O, Ye Dead”, in which the dead
  complain about bodily existence they can no
  longer enjoy (jealousy of the dead for the living).
• The dead do no stay buried.
• “The Dead” begins with a party and ends
  with a corpse. (What’s the significance of
• “Why is it that words like these seem to be
  so dull and cold?” (52) (a letter Joyce
  wrote to Nora in 1904); Joyce wrote book
  reviews for the Daily Express; Gabriel’s
  physical image (23-24).
• Mother’s rejection of liaison (30)
          Gabriel’s character
• Private tremors, sense of inadequacy; generous
  overtures are regularly checked.
• P. 23: Lily and Gabriel in the pantry: marriage
• Embarassment about Gretta’s origins: p. 33:
  “She’s from Connacht, isn’t she?”; “Her people
• The west is savagery (West of Ireland vs the
  Continent) (31-2). (The west at the end)
                “The Dead”
• Gabriel’s uneasiness about his attitude to the
  west, but clings to it to the end
• The Lass of Aughrim’s challenge (49) (village
  not far away from Gretta’s village)
• (A girl seduced and abandoned by Lord
• Violent passion is in Gretta’s past, not in the
  Dublin present
• P. 51: “The blood went bounding along in his
• "What was he?" asked Gabriel, still ironically.
• "He was in the gasworks," she said. (56)
• (Attempt to pose as superior; attempt to elicit
  pity, but Gretta stresses love)
• “The time had come for him to set out on his
  journey westward” (59).

• Is Gabriel conceding and relinquishing civilised
  thinking, Continental tastes; giving up narcissism
  and self-possession? Is he dying for her?
  Sacrifice of himself?
                    The snow
• Cold outside vs warmth inside, in the house where the
  party is taking place
• But warmth can be stuffy and confining (34: “Gabriel's
  warm trembling fingers tapped the cold pane of the
  window. How cool it must be outside! How pleasant it
  would be to walk out alone, first along by the river and
  then through the park! The snow would be lying on the
  branches of the trees and forming a bright cap on the top
  of the Wellington Monument. How much more pleasant it
  would be there than at the supper-table!”
• Warmth in Michael Fury’s being outside, in the cold.
• The imagery of fire / passion (51-2), but it is Gabriel’s
  unilateral vision
      The Dead and the living
• Interrelation of the dead and the living?
                     Allen Tate
• “If the art of naturalism consists mainly in making active
  those elements which had hitherto remained inert (i.e.
  description, expository summary), the further push given
  the method by Joyce consists in manipulating what at
  first sight seems to be mere physical detail into dramatic
• Gabriel enters the house, and flicks snow from his
  galoshes; by the time the story ends the snow has filled
  all the visible earth, and stands as a symbol of the
  revelation of Gabriel’s inner life (i.e. egoistic relation to
  his wife, inadequate response, etc.
      Narrative strategies (Tate)
• We know Gabriel at any given moment through what he
  sees and feels in terms of that moment.
• If he is to see the action for us, he must come
  authoritatively out of the scene. Lily is a function of his
  arrival on the scene.
• We are never told anything. We are shown everything
  (i.e, we are not told that the milieu of the story is the
  provincial, middle-class society of Dublin at the turn of
  the century, etc.)
• As he enters we are never far from Gabriel’s sight. Miss
  Ivors disappears the moment she has served her
  purpose of eliciting from Gabriel his relation to his
         Narrative strategies
• Gabriel’s partial view: He sees his wife as
  “Distant Music” (48: read) (irony about
  “distance”). He sees only the “lower part of
  her figure, from below; the upper part is
  involved with a song. The concealment of
  the upper part is a symbol, dramatically
  active, of his relation with his wife.
• We begin to see Michael (gravel thrown at
  the window, etc.
                  The snow
• Snow as overall symbol. What was a scenic
  detail on Gabriel’s galoshes expands. The snow
  is the story. At the beginning the snow is the
  cold and even hostile force of nature, enclosing
  the warm conviviality of the Misses Morkan’s
  party. As the action develops, the snow reverses
  its meaning. It becomes a symbol of warmth, of
  expanded consciousness. It stands for Gabriel’s
  escape from his own ego, into the larger world of
  humanity, including “all the living and the dead”.
• A light fringe of snow lay like a cape on the
  shoulders of his overcoat and like toecaps on
  the toes of his goloshes (23).
• The snow would be lying on the branches of the
  trees and forming a bright cap on the top of the
  Wellington Monument (34).
• The Wellington Monument wore a gleaming cap
  of snow that flashed westward over the white
  field of Fifteen Acres (42)
• Cap (Cape), Tap, Pat (Fingers and snow)
                     Tapping / Patting
• Gabriel's warm trembling fingers tapped the cold pane of the
  window (34)
• The patting at once grew louder in encouragement and then
  ceased altogether. Gabriel leaned his ten trembling fingers on
  the tablecloth and smiled nervously at the company. Meeting a
  row of upturned faces he raised his eyes to the chandelier. The
  piano was playing a waltz tune and he could hear the skirts
  sweeping against the drawing-room door. People, perhaps,
  were standing in the snow on the quay outside, gazing up at the
  lighted windows and listening to the waltz music. The air was
  pure there. In the distance lay the park where the trees were
  weighted with snow. The Wellington Monument wore a
  gleaming cap of snow that flashed westward over the white
  field of Fifteen Acres. (42)
• A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It
  had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver
  and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight. (59)

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