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Dubliners 1914, after 10 years delay James Joyce (1882 – 1941). Intended as a moral chapter Most stories were written when Joyce was 22; 15 stories “The Dead” as a crowning piece (at the age of 25). The Movie version 1987 Directed by John Huston (1906 –1987).

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dubliners 1914 after 10 years delay james joyce 1882 1941
Dubliners 1914, after 10 years delayJames Joyce (1882 – 1941)
  • Intended as a moral chapter
  • Most stories were written when Joyce was 22;
  • 15 stories
  • “The Dead” as a crowning piece (at the age of 25)
the movie version 1987 directed by john huston 1906 1987
The Movie version 1987Directed by John Huston (1906 –1987)
  • received 15 Oscar nominations, winning twice
  • directed both his father, Walter Huston, and daughter, Anjelica Huston to Oscar wins in different films.
the dead john huston s swan song
The DeadJohn Huston’s “Swan Song”
  • The Dead is a 1987 film directed by John Huston, starring his daughter Anjelica Huston as Gretta. The Dead was the last film that Huston directed, and it was released posthumously.
  • "Huston directed the movie, at eighty, from a wheelchair, jumping up to look through the camera, with oxygen tubes trailing from his nose to a portable generator”
swan song
Swan Song
  • The phrase "swan song" is a reference to an ancient belief that the Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) is completely mute during its lifetime until the moment just before it dies, when it sings one beautiful song.
  • an idiom referring to a final theatrical or dramatic appearance, or any final work or accomplishment. It generally carries the connotation that the performer is aware that this is the last performance of his or her lifetime, and is expending everything in one magnificent final effort.
aunt julia s swan song
Aunt Julia’s Swan Song
  • Aunt Julia’s song, “Arrayed for the Bridal,” a colora’tura so’prano ‘aria, is ironic in that she is unmarried and, as Columbia’s Hurt suggests, “her only bridegroom is death” (Columbia “Arrayed” Lyrics).
  • Gabriel’s response:
  • Followed the sound without looking at her face
  • http://www.themodernword.com/joyce/joyce_paper_warren.html
aunt julia
Aunt Julia
  • Aunt Julia’s hair, drawn low over the tops of her ears, was grey; and grey also, with darker shadows, was her large flaccid face. Though she was stout in build and stood erect, her slow eyes and parted lips gave her the appearance of a woman who did not know where she was or where she was going.
  • Joyce completed this story in Rome in 1907; it was the last to be written. Because of the content of some of the dialogue in the story, we can assume it took place in the first week of January in 1904, probably between January 2nd (Saturday) and January 6th (Wednesday). The characters speak of the party as taking place after New Year's Eve but still during Christmas time, which would last until January 6th, the Feast of the Epiphany (Twelfth Night). The date of 1904 is accepted because they talk about Pope Pius X's recent (November,1903) Motu ‘Proprio. --Wallace Gray
ellmann s essay online
Ellmann’s Essay online
  • Biographical approach contributes to interpretations
  • Karen DiYanni’s example in her analysis of Kafka;
  • Richard Ellmann --A revised edition of the biography was published in 1982. He edited My Brother's Keeper; by Stanislaus Joyce, and was co-editor with Ellsworth Mason of The Critical Writings of James Joyce. Read Ellmann online.
the feast of epiphany
The Feast of Epiphany
  • Epiphany (from Koine Greek

(ἡ) ἐπιφάνεια, epiphaneia "appearance", "manifestation") is a Christian feast day that celebrates the revelation of God in human form in the person of Jesus Christ. It falls on 6 January or, in many countries, on the Sunday that falls between 2 January and 8 January.


Epiphany, a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.

  • The Greek tradition
  • The climactic moment when a god appears and imposes order on the scene as in Greek dramas
  • The Christian tradition
  • a Christian festival, observed on January 6, commemorating the manifestation of Christ to the gentiles in the persons of the Magi; Twelfth-day.
decode the title allusion a method
Decode the TitleAllusion & a Method
  • One of the most popular and well-known books of poetry at the time was Thomas Moore's Irish Melodies, written during the period 1807-34. It is generally conceded that the title of this story comes from a poem in that volume.
  • Robert Scholes’ essay: “Counterparts and the Method of Dubliners” online (as warrant, something authoritative);
  • Counterpoint as a method of music composition;
  • Wei’s theory: the law of the shadow
  • In music, counterpoint is the relationship between two or more voices that are independent in contour and rhythm and are harmonically interdependent. It has been most commonly identified in classical music, developing strongly during the Renaissance and in much of the common practice period, especially in Baroque music. The term originates from the Latin punctus contra punctum meaning "point against point".
colonialism colonization loss of independence especially a spiritual one
Colonialism & ColonizationLoss of IndependenceEspecially a spiritual one
  • Colonialism in Ireland
  • Joyce’s works were written at the peak of Irish nationalism to search for an identity, national as well as personal;
  • Irish nationalism as represented by Molly Ivors, an intellectual equal to Gabriel;
  • Colonization in other forms (a much more generalized concept)
  • By an idea (The Tipping Point);
  • By a religion;
  • By cultural practice;
  • By political party lines;
  • By habits
  • By drugs…
joyce at 50
“Signatures of all things, I am here to read.” James Joyce, Ulyless

To read means to question, to interpret, to make inferences

Joyce at 50

Lily 158Literary Reasoning is associativewith its additional information embodied in its diction;These associations are directional and intentional;

  • Easter Lily: resurrection, rebirth;
  • Flowers used at a funeral, hence associated with death,
  • Associated with the Archangel Gabriel
  • Lily of the Valley or Madonna lily in Renaissance art
  • The Virgin’s chaste purity at the Annunciation
lily gabriel
Archangel is a term meaning an angel of high rank.

Gabriel is named an archangel in the Holy Bible's New Testament book, Luke.

Gabriel, traditionally named as an archangel, delivering the Annunciation. Painting by Paolo de Matteis, 1712.

Lily & Gabriel
Lily’s ‘solecism (Showing mode in writing, indirect, suggestive, subtler)a nonstandard or ungrammatical usage
  • Lily…was literally run off her feet.
  • Here the narrator has adopted Lily’s style of speaking;
  • 159: Gabriel noticed right away that Lily added one syllable to Gabriel’s last name—Conoroy—instead of Conroy;
  • 160: poor grammar in her speech;
subtle suggestiveness at the level of diction in literary reasoning
Subtle Suggestivenessat the level of diction in literary reasoning
  • Morke means “darkness” in Danish;
  • The dark gaunt (of places, bleak or desolate) house;
  • Toddling: tod in German means “death”;
  • Usher Island, an ordinary Liffeyside (River Liffey in Dublin means a river of life) quay or a wharf, a structure on the shore of a harbor where ships may dock to load and unload cargo or passengers.
showing vs telling in narrative
Showing vs. Telling in narrative
  • The first paragraph is an example of scene writing in which narrative is more descriptive;
  • Note the parallel structure in the last sentence--158;
  • The second paragraph is an example of narration executed in the telling mode: more summative, offering more background information about the annual dance;
parallel structure 158 and rhyme
Parallel structure 158and rhyme
  • Miss Kate and Miss Julia were there, gossiping and laughing and fussing, walking after each other to the head of the stairs, peering down over the banisters and calling down to Lily to ask her who had come.
point supporting point developing an idea in writing
Point & Supporting PointDeveloping an idea in writing
  • 158: Thought their life was modest they believed in eating well. (a topic sentence that summarizes the main idea at a more general level.
  • Further developing the idea by evidence: more specific—
  • 1. diamond-bone sirloins;
  • 2. three-shilling tea;
  • 3. best bottled stout (a dark, sweet brew)
lily s solecism showing vs telling
Lily’s ‘solecismShowing vs. Telling
  • 159: “back answers” means “retort”
  • Register in language usage: Register in Linguistics refers to a variety of language typically used in a specific type of communicative setting: an informal register; the register of scientific discourse, etc.;
hy perbole or exaggeration
Hy’perbole or exaggeration
  • 159: …and that was what brought them every two minutes to the banishers to ask Lily had Gabriel or Freddy come.
  • Rhetorical effect: intensification of anticipation;
  • Understatement:
  • the act or an instance of stating something in restrained terms, or as less than it is
  • Less for more
  • Understatement is a staple of humor in English-speaking cultures, especially in British humor.
three mortal hours 159 killing two birds with one stone
Three mortal hours 159Killing two birds with one stone
  • Mortal reminds us of mortality, of death,
  • Simultaneously it reveals something about Gretta, a woman who could spend a long time dressing up, getting ready for a party like this;
  • Showing vs. telling
kate and julia came toddling down 159
Kate and Julia came toddling down…159
  • Tod in German means “death”;
  • Subtly suggesting death is part of our life; around the corner, could happen any time;
  • In the meantime, it suggests the two aunts are getting old;
a is as right as b 159
A is as right as B 159
  • Irish mail is punctual;
  • A touch of irony: since Gabriel showed up late for the party;
  • Undercutting his credibility;
  • Plus, he called out from the dark…
galoshes goloshes frieze 159
Galoshes/Goloshes & Frieze 159
  • Goloshes as a text:
  • Gretta’s reading;
  • Aunt Julia’s reading;
  • Gabriel’s attitude;
  • Goloshes as a metaphor: how to take care of ourselves?
  • Frieze: a heavy woolen fabric with a rough surface,
faux pas for false step
Faux pas for False Step
  • A faux pas (pronounced /ˌfoʊˈpɑː/, plural: faux pas /ˌfoʊˈpɑː(z)/) is a violation of accepted social norms (for example, standard customs or etiquette rules). Faux pas vary widely from culture to culture, and what is considered good manners in one culture can be considered a faux pas in another. The term comes originally from French, and literally means "false step".
faux pas for false step1
Faux pas for False Step
  • This expression is usually used in social and diplomatic contexts. The term has been in use in English for some time and is no longer italicized when written. In French, it is employed literally to describe a physical loss of balance as well as figuratively, in which case the meaning is roughly the same as in English. Other familiar synonyms include gaffe and bourde (bourde, unlike faux pas, can designate any type of mistake).
innocent but insensitive
Innocent but insensitive
  • Innocent moves
  • Gabriel asked Lily in a friendly tone (160)
  • Habitual response to a situation, calloused by one’s profession;
  • The second question is stereotyping, assuming a young girl, once out of school, will marry someone;
  • Unintended consequences
  • Lack of empathy of how others feel;
  • The assumption is made from Gabriel’s perspective since he is an teacher;
  • Naturally he will ask questions about schools
lily s paralysis
Lily’s Paralysis
  • Lily got stuck where she is: poorly educated, doing a low-paying job;
  • Paralyzed by her failed romance;
  • Hasty generalization about men, about love, about relationships;
  • One bad experience can’t stand for all;
their grade of culture differed from his 161
Their grade of culture differed from his. 161
  • Robert Browning (7 May 1812 – 12 December 1889) was an English poet and playwright whose mastery of dramatic verse, especially dramatic monologues, made him one of the foremost Victorian poets.
dramatic irony
Dramatic Irony
  • Dramatic irony involves the reader (or audience) knowing something about what's happening in the plot, about which the character(s) have no knowledge. Dramatic irony can be used in comedies and tragedies, and it works to engage the reader, as one is drawn into what is happening. The audience may sympathize with the character, who does not know the true situation. Or, the reader may see the character as blind or ignorant (as with Oedipus). The clues may be rather obvious, but the character may be unwilling to recognize the truth.
puckers and creases 161
to gather or contract (a soft surface such as the skin of the face) into wrinkles or folds, or (of such a surface) to be so gathered or contracted

2. a wrinkle, crease, or irregular fold

Puckers and Creases 161
cadence 161 note h
Cadence 161 Note h
  • Cadence refers to the rhythmic flow of a sequence of sounds or words
their favorite nephew 161
Their favorite nephew 161
  • Gabriel’s only rival is his brother, the priest, who did not appear at the party
  • Significant by his absence;
viand and sweets 164
Viand and Sweets 164
  • Joyce's use of this rather dramatic, uncommon term for "food" raises interesting questions. Unlike "food" it derives from the Latin vivere (to live), but if it is an example of stylistic inflection it is not clear which character would use such a word -- perhaps Mr. Browne or the caretaker? The repetition of the equally formal term "sideboard" may suggest a banquet (or funeral) setting of an earlier time.
pansy 165
Pansy 165
  • Probably a combination of purple, yellow and white after the flower Viola tricolor (also called "heartsease"!), this red-faced woman -- do we ever find our her name? -- dressed in pansy seems the antidote to Mr. Browne, and perhaps to the funereal tempo of the evening as well.
zeugma 165
Zeugma 165
  • –noun Grammar, Rhetoric .
  • the use of a word to modify or govern two or more words when it is appropriate to only one of them or is appropriate to each but in a different way, as in to wage war and peace  or On his fishing trip, he caught three trout and a cold.
oxymoron 165
Oxymoron 165
  • a figure of speech by which a locution produces an incongruous, seemingly self-contradictory effect, as in “cruel kindness” or “to make haste slowly.”
  • Freddy is a young man of about forty.
  • Though 40 years old, Freddy is not mature intellectually or emotionally;
riam 166 royal irish academy of music
RIAM 166Royal Irish Academy of Music
  • http://www.riam.ie/homepage.html
james joyce vs homer
James Joyce vs. Homer
  • Though the most stable character in Dubliners, Gabriel sounds somewhat suicidal to some readers when meditating on his wife’s young lover’s early death:
  • “Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age” (Dubliners 224). This is the crux of the whole text.
  • The allusion/reference to “that other world” as the realm of spirits recalls the scene in Homer’s Odyssey, where the ghost of Achilles addresses Odysseus: “Better, I say, to break sod as a farm hand for some poor countryman, on iron rations, than lord it over all the exhausted dead” (Odyssey 201).
two value codes
Achilles chose to die young but in glory

His mother warned him if he went to war, he would die young;

Achilles’mother hid the youth in a girl’s dress;

The allusion/reference to “that other world” as the realm of spirits recalls the scene in Homer’s Odyssey, where the ghost of Achilles addresses Odysseus: “Better, I say, to break sod as a farm hand for some poor countryman, on iron rations, than lord it over all the exhausted dead” (Odyssey 201).

Two Value Codes
is gabriel suicidal could you write a sequel to the dead
Is Gabriel Suicidal?Could You Write a Sequel to The Dead?
  • For the most part, their existence together seems dull as revealed in the text;
  • Is the life of Gabriel and Gretta worse than what Gretta would have had with Michael then?
  • What does it take to recover from a discovery like Gabriel makes? Could Gabriel overcome his paralysis and go on?
james joyce s delicate balance
James Joyce’s Delicate Balance
  • Flip-flop Symbols, Tropes & Metaphors throughout:
  • Lily: Flowers used for funerals; but Easter symbolizes the Resurrection of the dead;
  • Incongruity: between the title, “The Dead” and time of the party, the high point of the Christmas / New Year celebration & the time for the feast of epiphany.
  • West: an established trope for death in the Western Literature: “The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward” (Dubliners 225). But The West also represents the true Ireland, and the home country of Gabriel’s wife, Gretta—who wants to vacation there.
death weighs heavily throughout framed by the sisters the dead
List of deaths of family members, relatives, & friends in The Dead:






List of deaths in fiction, plays, ballads, songs & paintings:






Death Weighs Heavily ThroughoutFramed by The Sisters & The Dead
ambiguity is not the same as ambivalence
Ambiguity is not the same as Ambivalence
  • The most striking strength of “The Dead” lies in its delicate balance, and more important, something shadowed, unstated, & veiled. This has made the story a great challenge in literary interpretation.
  • Wayne Booth puts the most shrewdly, “In short, the author’s judgment is always present, always evident to anyone who knows how to look for it.”[1]But this doesn’t help much, it seems.

[1] Wayne Booth in The Rhetoric of Fiction. (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1961), page 20.

putting things in perspectives
Putting Things in Perspectives
  • Structurally & Thematically, without The Dead, Dubliners would have been quite different. Before this story, most characters are in some way paralyzed or stuck in repeating patterns (as in Counterparts, the most symmetrical story that shows how terrible patterns in Irish life are repeated).
  • The Dead signals a turn towards what I would call Joyce’s Counterpoint Narrative that weaves together multiple story lines into a new story, therefore breaking the new ground not only technically but also thematically.
joyce s new perspective on his home country
Joyce’s New Perspective on his Home Country
  • Irish Warmth, Generosity & Hospitality vs. Joyce’s experience in Rome—In September of 1906, Joyce wrote:
  • “Sometimes thinking of Ireland it seems to me that I have been unnecessarily harsh. I have reproduced (in Dubliners at least) none of the attraction of the city for I have never felt at my ease in any city since I left it except in Paris. I have not reproduced its ingenuous insularity and its hospitality.[1]


recurrent explorations
Recurrent Explorations
  • The Dead in Dubliners—Gabriel’s generous tears.
  • Gabriel has been surprised and wounded. He feels his identity is under attack; but this makes a portal of great discoveries about other people, about his home country; & about himself.
  • However, in “A Painful Case,” a man who cannot be generous causes the suicide of the only woman who ever loved him.
  • Joyce treats this theme elsewhere, less satisfactorily in Exiles but more fully in Ulysses.
generosity a consistent theme
Generosity: A Consistent Theme
  • Gabriel weeps (as Jesus weeps), but no longer for himself;
  • “A shameful consciousness of his own person, assailed him. He saw himself as a ludicrous figure, acting as a pennyboy for his aunts, a nervous well-meaning sentimentalist, orating vulgarians and idealizing his own clownish lusts, the pitiable ‘fatuous fellow he had caught a glimpse of in the mirror. Instinctively he turned his back more to the light lest she might see the shame that burned upon his forehead” (221).
truly connected to the living through the dead
Truly Connected to the Living through the Dead
  • Generous tears filled Gabriel’s eyes. He had never felt like that towards any woman but he knew that such a feeling must be love.
  • 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. The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones,on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.
if you were to write a sequel to the dead
If you were to write a Sequel to The Dead
  • A moment of Pro’lepsis--The representation or taking of something future as already done or existing; anticipation: Gabriel has imaginatively visited Michael Fury’s grave at the end of the story.
  • Who will be there hand in hand by his side?
  • Is Gabriel going to commit suicide?
  • Is Gabriel going to leave Grette for good?
gabriel s gaze sympathetic but critical two models under critical lens

“Better Pass boldly into that other other world in full glory of some passion”--like Michael Fury—Let Me Like a Solider Fall, a ballad mentioned on page 200;

Gretta claims that “I think he died for me” (Dubliners 221). Romanticism has paralyzed Gretta for so long.

“But he (Michael) [actually] said he did not want to live” (Dubliners 223).


“Than fade and wither dismally with age”—like Aunt Julia.

The song Arrayed for the Bridal vs. the singer who has passed her prime time.

During her singing, Gabriel follows Aunt Julia’s voice instead of looking at her face; Fred’s applause at the wrong time;

When “the table burst into applause and laughter at this sally, Aunt Julia vainly asked each of her neighbors in turn to tell her what Gabriel had said” (Dubliners 205).

Gabriel’s Gaze: Sympathetic but Critical Two Models Under Critical Lens
are these the only models what s left out unstated
Are these the only models?What’s Left Out, Unstated?
  • The general patterns in comparison or contrast are: good-better-best; bad-worse-worst. What is the best? It is up to the reader to infer.
  • It is true that “passing boldly into that other world in the full glory of some passion” is admirable; Joyce did not claim that this option is better than anything else. It is only a partial confirmation. Examined closely, a partial confirmation is a form of partial negation, which implies that Michael’s model is not the best.
  • Aunt Julia’s--fading and withering dismally with age is evidentially the worst. Perhaps she will not make it to the next party—Consult Dubliners 224.
the third model gabriel is not michael
The Third Model—Gabriel is not Michael!
  • When you run into a problem, do you run away?
  • When you are disappointed, do you take it out on somebody else?
  • When you recognize that you are not perfect, do you fall into despair?
  • Remember the question: what is the sequel, what follows this story?
  • Imagine Gabriel and Gretta, actually going back to her home to visit Michael’s grave.
  • She needs closure too, and they both need to go on.
why do we still need to read prose fiction to expand sympathy
Why do We Still Need to Read Prose Fiction? --To Expand Sympathy--
  • All over the world, seeking justice often goes hand in hand with either seeking revenge with violence or falling into self-pity as evidenced on the daily basis.
  • We are still living in a “less spacious age” in Joyce’s own words; Prose fiction makes it available to us others’ experience across time and space, therefore expanding sympathy.
  • The question is not: will you die for me if you love me?


  • If you love me, WILL YOU LIVE FOR ME?!
consistent voice if not the same resolution exiles vs ulysses
Consistent Voice, if not the same resolutionExiles vs. Ulysses
  • Michael Seidel comments that, “In a sense, Exiles is Ulysses under psychoanalysis…The play offers a sequence of glosses on the day of Ulysses, and even, retrospectively, on the evening of the long short story ‘The Dead’” (Seidel 74). What Richard says to Robert of Bertha sounds just like what Leopold Bloom in Ulysses, if he could frame it quite this way, might say to Blazes Boylan, if he could understands it that way, of Molly Bloom.
  • “I would not suffer her to give to another what was hers and not mine to give, because I accepted from her loyalty and made her life poorer in love. That is my fear. That I stand between her and any moments of life that should be hers, between her and you, between her and anyone, between her and anything. I will not do it. I cannot and I will not. I dare not.” (Seidel 69)[1]

[1] Quoted in Seidel, page 73.

joyce s artistic credo
Joyce’s Artistic Credo
  • "Still I think that out of the dreary sameness of existence, a measure of dramatic life may be drawn. Even the most commonplace, the deadest among the living, may play a part in a great drama. It is sinful foolishness to sigh back for the good old times, to feed the hunger of us with the cold stones they afford. Life we must accept as we see it before out eyes, men and women as we meet them in the real world, not as we apprehend them in the world of faery. The great human comedy in which each has share, gives limitless scope to the true artist, today as yesterday and as in years gone." [1]
  • [1]http://www.mendele.com/WWD/WWDdead.notes.html
autonomous self vs fragmented self the role of art as mediation empowerment
“Autonomous Self” vs. “Fragmented Self”The Role of Art as Mediation & Empowerment

What is the role of art in general and literature in particular in healing the post-modern notion of fragmented self on the one hand, and on the other, balancing the naïve Romantic notion of the autonomous self in the current multicultural milieu?