Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Dead by James Joyce

This has been touted as one of the best short stories ever written. Upon finishing my Librivox recordings, I think I have to agree.

First of all, download the Librivox version. The person who recorded this story was absolutely phenomenal. He had the Irish brogue to go with the story and was just a fantastic reader.

On to the story: The Dead is part of the Dubliners collection of short stories. This story focuses on Gabriel Conroy and is set at his aunt's annual dance and dinner (around 1904). Gabriel is incredibly self-conscious, fidgety and has a social awkwardness that also causes him to be a bit...abrupt with people. Conroy is asked by his aunts to give a toast at the end of the dinner, in which he tries to make up for some of the "rudeness" that he has shown earlier in the evening. He praises the past and talks about the future generations.

As they are leaving the dinner, he spots his wife, Greta, on the stairs. Since they are staying in a hotel overnight before heading home, Conroy is feeling amorous. He finds later that is wife is melancholy after hearing a song played that evening; The Lass of Aughrim. Conroy soon finds out why that song has made his wife sad and soon has an epiphany of his own. We are all the same in that we all will die.

Excellent story and well worth listening to at Librivox.
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