Why "The Dead" by James Joyce Is the Greatest Christmas Story

Comments

1
I AGREE!
2
Charles,
I really like "The Dead". It's a terrific story/film. I forget that it's set during Christmastime.

Glad you like it too.
3
So, how is Sub Saharan Africa doing without capitalism, what is the outlook without it?
4
@3 Not sure what you are trying to say. Many countries in SSA are as free market as the United States. SSA has about half of the fastest growing economies in the world:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_co…
5
Wonderful choice, Charles. John Huston's masterpiece is always must viewing for me at Christmas. What a superb film.
6
The Dead is incomparable, but my favorite Christmas stories are by https://beingsakin.wordpress.com/2011/12…">Charles Bukowski and https://beingsakin.wordpress.com/2011/03…">Vladimir Nabokov.
7
@6 love Bukowski, and love Barfly, Rourke's best work and stellar Dunaway...
8
A laughably bad commentary on a total misread of Irish history.

Conroy was a sympathizer of Unionism (recall, he was insulted as a “West Briton”), educated at (Anglican) Trinity College, and admirer the snow-covered statue of Wellington. All the clues to the character are there — for anyone with a passing understanding of Irish history and culture. (And if you done know that, it’s an automatic relegation from interpretation of subsequent works in Joyce’s “The Dubliners”)

The story has nothing to do with the rise/fall of affluence, (and no families of merchant class, Trinity educated upper-middle class Dubliners were starved 60 years prior).

The ‘Dead’ aren’t the ghosts of the past famine, The Dead are the people in the room, who have conceded to the formalism of British Culture, and are rule-bound by the Church. Joyce was critiquing Irish (Catholics) complacency, not a tension between past poverty and new affluence.

What are the standards for being a “writer” at The Stranger? (Other than banality.)

9
@8) Read the story again and keep this in mind: 'The West of Ireland, as we all know, is the part of the isle that suffered more critically the devastating consequences of the Great Hunger. There are even nowadays many traces in the landscape that inevitably refer to the tragic episode: wide deserted areas, multiple famine graves, scattered ruined cottages, etc. We could even interpret in this light Gabriel‟s reflection on “that region where dwell the vast hosts of the dead”' http://www.siff.us.es/iberjoyce/wp-conte…
10
@9 Charles,

You do realize, I hope, not EVERYTING has to do with race and capitalism. ‘The Dead’ is a metonymy, that explores the anguish the Irish feel for knowing what they’re not. It’s part of the modernist movement of personal reflection — or inwardness — not a commentary on external political forces. Joyce was commenting on Dubliner’s loyalty to propriety and formalism, instead of loyalty to their Irishness. It was about being authentic.

Make yourself a New Year resolution to write just half your stories from a human condition that DOESNT involve race and the ills of free markets. Simply looking for them will broaden your mind to how the world really works outside of NPR, the Sanders Campaign and The Stranger.
11
@9 - you're supposed to say "I just happen to have James Joyce right here" as the intro to making a post like that.
12
8 and 9, there is a fair amount of literary criticism about Joyce's "response" to the Great Hunger...most relate how it was embedded in Joyce, psychologically, spiritually, and did not come out overtly, yet was nevertheless a tugging, as on a sleeve, influence. From JOSÉ MANUEL ESTÉVEZ-SAÁ, Papers on Joyce 17/18 (2011-2012): 19-33
Famine, Ghosts and Trauma in James
Joyce‟s Works:....."Terry Eagleton stated in Heathcliff and the Great Hunger: Studies in Irish Culture that “If the Famine stirred some [Irish writers] to angry rhetoric, it would seem to have traumatized others into muteness,” and he wondered “Where is the Famine in the literature of the Revival? Where is it in Joyce?” (13). The present article intends to study where and how Joyce approaches or avoids this dramatic episode in Irish history. An analysis of the references to Hunger and Famine in
Joyce‟s works proves that the socio-historical tragedy figures in the Irish author‟s fiction as a spectre that haunts the writer and his texts, a ghost that has not been exorcised or, in Jacques Derrida‟s words a revenant. The reflections and methodology proposed by trauma studies and intergenerational trauma theory will help me to demonstrate that the Great Hunger figures in Joyce‟s fiction as an unassimilated inheritance that lies beyond traditional ways of conception and consequently defies conventional representation."
In this way, the Great Hunger lingers as a ghost, as the memories of The Dead...
13
Literary debate in the comments! Now doesn't this beat the hell out of Jill Stein - related trolling.
14
Die Hard is a Christmas story with far more more to say about capitalism than The Dead.

But then, as others have pointed out, it's a pretty low bar.
15
almost nothing vegan! I would be stuck with parsley and celery.
16
@8 and 9 (with thanks to #12): The beauty of yes and as opposed to but is that it allows for simultaneous multiple themes and strands to exist in a single text. Put another way, when a writer is good, he or she can create a text that has meaning on multiple levels at the same time.

And @Zok, one person's valid interpretation doesn't invalidate another equally compelling interpretation, even if the author may not have had that meaning in mind when he wrote the text. See Wimsatt's and Beardley's "Intentional Fallacy" and "Affective Fallacy."

P.S. Die Hard is a great Xmas movie. I love it when Bruce Willis says, "God bless us, everyone, Motherfuckers!"
17
Zok 1. Mudede 0.

But Charles still awards himself a participation trophy.
18
@16
I’m less so commenting on Mudede’s interpretation of Joyce, and moreso commenting on his myopic, ahistorical premise, that the upper middle class of Dublin were famine victims, which is factually wrong. (In fact, Dublin boomed financially, culturally and socially during this time, as wealthy landholders moved into the city.)

Like all things Mudede, the underlying current is always alleged to be class, race and always-evil capitalism. Straining to reach for the writer. Wearisome for the reader. That well-worn intellectual rut is good enough to round out the page of concert calendar/smoke shop ads —— but “journalistic?”

Meh.

19
@15: the only thing I like less than meat is celery :-( I'd have to eat the blancmange and pudding and foil wrapped chocolates.
20
As far as slog goes this is an A+ thread. A veritable diamond in the rough. IS Santa real? God bless. Merry Christmas, everyone.
21
I never understood how it is that unreadable books are considered great literature.
22
@21 You might as well say, "I never understood how it is that unsolvable equations are considered great math." If it's unreadable, you need more practice. We're not talking Finnegan's Wake here. "The Dead" and all of Joyce's Dubliner stories are not only readable but indisputably great. The diverse interpretations on this thread are testament to that. It would be a shame to leave this earth without gaining some appreciation for them.