The Novella Club discussion

The Dead
This topic is about The Dead
29 views
Group reads > The Dead - January 2018 group read (spoilers)

Comments Showing 1-22 of 22 (22 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Ivan (last edited Jan 01, 2018 05:39AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ivan | 2166 comments Mod
“Why is it that words like these seem dull and cold? Is it because there is no word tender enough to be your name?” ― James Joyce, The Dead


Ivan | 2166 comments Mod
“Moments of their secret life together burst like stars upon his memory.” ― James Joyce, The Dead


Ivan | 2166 comments Mod
“Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age.” ― James Joyce, The Dead


Ivan | 2166 comments Mod
Is this a novella or a long short story?

It's gorgeous. I'll admit that Joyce is not a favorite. I often feel that either this emperor has no clothes or I just lack the mental acuity to appreciate him. The Dead is different. I get it. It touches me. A gathering of family and friends of the Morkan sisters Julia and Kate and their niece Mary Jane ("the Three Graces") to celebrate Epiphany.

I want to be a guest at this party. The rich description of the various characters, the reactions and dialogue. I hate to say that life was simpler then for the times in which these characters lived were as complicated in their way as those of our time are to us. However, I do long for the simplicity of a gathering where guests recite poetry or prose or play a little something on the piano or sing. Then there is the dinner...

Then after the party, back at the hotel, Greta's story about Michael Furey and finally Gabriel's musings...

discuss...


message 5: by Buck (last edited Jan 01, 2018 06:31AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Buck (spectru) | 568 comments This is my review from almost five years ago:

"The legendary James Joyce. The Dead - "Often cited as the best work of short fiction ever written."

I've put off reading James Joyce because of so much having been said of his novels Ulysses and Finnegan's Wake as being daunting, esoterically mystical high literature. I really had no idea what to expect. I did expect century-old stilted language with an Irish brogue. So I decided to start with something not too ambitious, a short work, The Dead.

The prose is quite good, and unexpectedly, quite readable. The story is simple, the setting of a scene, all a precursor to the last few pages. There really is no plot. We can't even be sure who the main character is, not until the closing. In the end, almost all the characters, whom we have gotten to know over the course of the evening, fall away. The story is all about personalities, expectations, perceptions, and feelings, culminating in the private thoughts of two people individually, together."



Buck (spectru) | 568 comments Ivan wrote: "I'll admit that Joyce is not a favorite. I often feel that either this emperor has no clothes or I just lack the mental acuity to appreciate him."

Well put, Ivan. It is the former.

I read The Dead as preamble to reading Ulysses. The Dead is good. Boy, was I in for a surprise when I read Ulysses.

I characterized Ulysses as a hoax. I wrote this about Joyce: "A dear friend says, “Art is whatever you can get away with.” Joyce gets away with quite a lot. The emperor has no clothes."


message 7: by Patrick (new)

Patrick I finally read Ulysses two years ago, and I found that it completely lived up to its reputation. I have not read a 20th Century novel to surpass it. So, you know, opinions will vary. Not looking for a debate, but I did want to say this.


Ivan | 2166 comments Mod
Patrick wrote: "I finally read Ulysses two years ago, and I found that it completely lived up to its reputation. I have not read a 20th Century novel to surpass it. So, you know, opinions will vary. Not looking fo..."

No debates Patrick, just opinions (none more valid than any other). I'm a firm believer that different books speak to different people.

Have you read The Dead? What did you think?


message 9: by Patrick (new)

Patrick Oh, I love The Dead. I was lucky to be assigned the complete Dubliners in my Catholic boys' prep school back in the early 70s, and I have re-read it since.


Christina (cpagano86) | 1 comments The notion of short story versus novella is quite interesting. Based on character development and overall arc of The Dead, I lean towards feeling that it is a short story over a novella.

I asgree with Buck, the prose was surprisingly readable. The descriptions perfectly painting the picture of the scene, while not being overly verbose. And that ending! SPOILER ---

I love musing over the idea that we can have deep love for multiple people in our lives. It questions the notion of "soul mates". I found it to be beautiful how he viewed Gretta from afar and his remembrance that she is an individual with a rich history he may not be privy to. Little was needed to know about Gretta beyond her admission to see her multi-dimensional self.


message 11: by Ivan (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ivan | 2166 comments Mod
I remember Anjelica Huston as Greta in the film - her performance was so moving.


message 12: by Ivan (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ivan | 2166 comments Mod
Today is Epiphany - I wish I were on my way to the Morkan sisters.


message 14: by John (last edited Jan 22, 2018 03:35PM) (new)

John Grabowski (johngrabowski) | 11 comments Ivan wrote: "Is this a novella or a long short story?

Technically it's not a novella—not long enough—but could be a long short story of a novelette.

Regardless what you call it, I am now reading it for the second time for this group. I was struck the first time around by the juxtaposition of public and private thoughts and consciousness and the contrast of public and private settings to reveal intimacies, something I also get a lot with Virginia Woolf, an exact contemporary of Joyce's (same birth and death years!) whom I also adore and for many of the same reasons. I was hoping to see more discussion/analysis but so far just a few posts. Are they somewhere else and I'm missing them. (Sometimes I find Goodreads to be a bit unintuitive to navigate.)


message 15: by Ivan (last edited Jan 29, 2018 03:20PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ivan | 2166 comments Mod
Sorry. The group is floundering. We have lots of members, but few participate in group reads or discussions. I'm wondering if "group" reads are something I should keep up with or maybe we should do more "buddy" reads (but I'm not exactly sure how all that works).


message 16: by joseph (new)

joseph m | 1 comments Hello all, I’ve been woefully absent from this group many years, but I just today picked up a copy of The Dead....I’ll have more words by Tuesday. Cheers


message 17: by Ivan (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ivan | 2166 comments Mod
joe wrote: "Hello all, I’ve been woefully absent from this group many years, but I just today picked up a copy of The Dead....I’ll have more words by Tuesday. Cheers"

Looking forward to reading your thoughts on this.


message 18: by Phil (new) - rated it 4 stars

Phil Jensen | 70 comments Ivan wrote: "Sorry. The group is floundering. We have lots of members, but few participate in group reads or discussions. I'm wondering if "group" reads are something I should keep up with or maybe we should do..."

Buddy reads would be fine with me. I'm also fine with Ivan just picking the monthly reads- he has interesting taste.

I'm glad I read this story. I've been avoiding Joyce for a while. I read and hated Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man when I was in high school, and I was wary of another tedious, brain-burning exercise. I was amazed at how human and accessible this novella was.


message 19: by Ivan (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ivan | 2166 comments Mod
Phil wrote: "Ivan wrote: "Sorry. The group is floundering. We have lots of members, but few participate in group reads or discussions. I'm wondering if "group" reads are something I should keep up with or maybe..."

I only read "Portrait of the Artist..." last year. I thought that some of it was worth reading and other parts were simply incoherent - random, disconnected thoughts - like someone writing when they are drunk. It's Jackson Pollock art - splatters of words in this case. I read passages thinking "did I just have a stroke? None of this makes any sense to me."

The Dead is quite different. I may read some of the other stories in Dubliners.


message 20: by Ivan (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ivan | 2166 comments Mod
Phil wrote: "Ivan wrote: "Sorry. The group is floundering. We have lots of members, but few participate in group reads or discussions. I'm wondering if "group" reads are something I should keep up with or maybe..."

Thanks Phil.


message 21: by Buck (new) - rated it 4 stars

Buck (spectru) | 568 comments Ivan wrote: "Sorry. The group is floundering. We have lots of members, but few participate in group reads or discussions. I'm wondering if "group" reads are something I should keep up with or maybe we should do..."

Ivan. I was glad when The Novella Club came back to life after its too-long hiatus. It may be a little slow and not have a lot of active participants, but I wouldn't say it's "floundering". Quality vs quantity.


message 22: by Ivan (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ivan | 2166 comments Mod
Quality wins every time. Thanks Buck.


back to top