JamesBuy Book    JamesBuy Film

The Dead
by James Joyce

The last work in "Dubliners," "The Dead" explores a priggish man's attitude toward the world around him as he parties with his friends and family. In college I knew an English professor who told me he thought the most beautiful sentence in the English language was the conclusion: "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." It turns out that many people are obsessed with the ending. Critics love to scour the final two paragraphs, wondering if Joyce means that the main character and all of humanity, really is about to turn over a new leaf or continue schlepping through life as a conceited, semi-somnolent schlub. Lest this seem like a spoiler, don't worry. In Joyce every word contains a universe. You could study this story 18 times with a different experience. Or you could easily glide over the deeper meanings and read for plot, or for the music of the language. This time I read it at a cafe on a Saturday morning, lingering long enough to drink two large mugs of coffee sweetened with condensed milk. As usual when I read the end, I felt it came too soon. Who it's for: people who like hunting for metaphors, patient readers, people who want to sample Joyce before signing up for the longer works, anyone who wonders what it means to be alive, sentient, relevant.

Buy it at Amazon

© 2008 The Black Rabbit. All Rights Reserved.  Created by the black rabbit