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The Dead (The Art of the Novella) [Paperback]

James Joyce
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)

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Book Description

September 1, 2004 097496090X 978-0974960906
He asked himself what is a woman standing on the stairs in the shadow, listening to distant music, a symbol of.

Often cited as the best work of short fiction ever written, Joyce's elegant story details a New Year's Eve gathering in Dublin that is so evocative and beautiful that it prompts the protagonist's wife to make a shocking revelation to her husband—closing the story with an emotionally powerful epiphany that is unsurpassed in modern literature.

The Art of The Novella Series

Too short to be a novel, too long to be a short story, the novella is generally unrecognized by academics and publishers. Nonetheless, it is a form beloved and practiced by literature's greatest writers. In the Art Of The Novella series, Melville House celebrates this renegade art form and its practitioners with titles that are, in many instances, presented in book form for the first time.

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Editorial Reviews


"I wanted them all, even those I'd already read."
—Ron Rosenbaum, The New York Observer

"Small wonders."
Time Out London

"[F]irst-rate…astutely selected and attractively packaged…indisputably great works."
—Adam Begley, The New York Observer

"I’ve always been haunted by Bartleby, the proto-slacker. But it’s the handsomely minimalist cover of the Melville House edition that gets me here, one of many in the small publisher’s fine 'Art of the Novella' series."
The New Yorker

"The Art of the Novella series is sort of an anti-Kindle. What these singular, distinctive titles celebrate is book-ness. They're slim enough to be portable but showy enough to be conspicuously consumed—tiny little objects that demand to be loved for the commodities they are."
—KQED (NPR San Francisco)

"Some like it short, and if you're one of them, Melville House, an independent publisher based in Brooklyn, has a line of books for you... elegant-looking paperback editions ...a good read in a small package."
The Wall Street Journal

About the Author

James Joyce was born in Dublin in 1882, the oldest of ten children in a Catholic family. He attended Jesuit schools and, in 1904, moved first to Trieste, then Paris, with Nora Barnacle; they married in 1931. After publishing his first novel, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, in 1916, Joyce developed glaucoma, and his eyesight steadily diminished for the rest of his life. His seminal novel Ulysses was published by his friend Sylvia Beach out of her Paris bookstore, only to be banned in the US and elsewhere due to charges of indecency. Fleeing the Nazi invasion of France, Joyce died in Zurich in 1941.

Product Details

  • Series: The Art of the Novella
  • Paperback: 92 pages
  • Publisher: Melville House (September 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 097496090X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0974960906
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 5 x 0.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,030,838 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An Evocative Christmas Evening November 15, 2004
By Plume45
Set in early 20th century Dublin this short story was the last in a collection called The Dubliners by native son, James Joyce. Despite the mournful title there is no murder nor mysterious death involved in this seemingly simple piece, set in an old-fashioned Society home during the Christmas season. Instead this proves an introspective tale from the viewpoint of middle-aged Gabriel, favorite nephew of his respected aunts who host an annual dinner party. The role of music and performers is debated among their many lively guests.

Gabriel's required speech during dinner praises the Irish tradition of warm hospitality. But something causes his wife, Gretta, to hark back to her girlhood and her first love--whose poignant memory threatens his plans for connubial bliss in their hotel room. Delicate as the snowflakes which blot out the city landscape, barely plotted with delicious hints of unexpressed emotion, The Dead transports readers to a different gas-lit age, where beauty and grace are subtly exhibited and passionately sought after. Joyce reminds us that music possesses the power to evoke the past and serve as a catalyst both for pain and pleasure. This may be read in one sitting, but don't miss the author's other reminiscences.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful Case Study Collection of Literary Masterpiece October 10, 2004
I've found this to be the most useful of all the "case study" texts I've tried from both St. Martin's/Bedford and Norton. The primary text is sufficiently contained and the representative critical methodologies presented clearly enough to introduce students to both literature and literary theory without overwhelming them. Moreover, "The Dead" is capable of repaying the close and observant reader with a Joycean "epiphany" perhaps not surpassed by any other literary text (the last several paragraphs, especially, require attention to the developing, altering meanings of each and every word).

I have one caveat: the essay representing feminist criticism I frankly find baffling. The writer, apparently trying to have her cake and eat it too, manages to indict Joyce as a sexist while applauding the story as a critique of sexism and patriarchal hegemony! It does not "seem" to occur to her that Joyce may be removed from his central character, Gabriel, or that her evidence for Gabriel's male arrogance may actually be Joyce's idea from the start. A close reading of the character certainly suggests an ironic portrayal--everything that appears to be in Gabriel's favor is exposed through Joyce's subtle language as self-delusion. The feminist critic, however, impugns Joyce by suggesting that his "intentions" are less honorable than the meaning of the text itself!

Perhaps the writer is overstating a point in order to provide a better example of the type of critical approach she was asked to represent for the purposes of this anthology. I know that I will suggest as much should I again have occasion to use this particular essay.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece January 9, 2012
Reynolds Price called it the greatest short story written in English. Carson McCullers reread it every Christmas. I have read James Joyce's masterpiece "The Dead" from his book DUBLINERS at least a half dozen times. I just reread it, and as usual, it made my eyes burn. It is one of those rare stories that, when you finish it, you call up those people you love and those who love literature to make sure they have read it too.

The story, set in Dublin, covers one evening during the Christmas season when two sisters, the Misses Morkan, Julia and Kate, hold their annual dance, the event of the season and not to be missed. Their nephew Gabriel and his wife Gretta are of course invited. Gabriel is pompous and, to use a current expression, full of himself as he gives his usual speech at the event. The last 4 or 5 pages of this rather long-- although there is not one sentence too many-- story contain some of the most moving language you will encounter in English. Joyce makes a sad, profound statement about love, life and death and asks the question of how well do we really know those people closest to us.

The story became the director John Huston's last film by the same name (1987). He cast his daughter Anjelica as Gretta. Tenor Frank Patterson, who left us far too soon, sang that glorious song "The Lass of Aughrim" in the movie that is almost as good as Joyce's story.

Everyone who loves literature should read this perfect story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars beautiful December 27, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a most beautiful story, so well written and enchanting that you are completely taken away to another time and place where you meet people you hope actually lived because they will live on in you. Beautiful a must read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written June 6, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book is well-written. Not only is "The Dead" included, but five critics give their perspectives on the story, such as historicism, reader-response criticism, etc. You will learn about the rule of reading, if that is something new to you as well as many of literary terms and concepts.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Joyce short story worth revisiting October 31, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I decided to read "The Dead" once again to see if it lived up to its sometime label as the best short story in the English language. It does. I enjoyed it and was once again awed by its flawlessness and deep and subtle meaning. It's interesting to contrast the style in this classic form with Joyce's "Ulysses".

Tom Cody
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars it's great writing, but my reaction to the characters was
I was expecting more than I got out of it. Yes, it's great writing, but my reaction to the characters was, "who cares?"
Published 5 days ago by Viking31
5.0 out of 5 stars Augh!
Just as tough a read as it was when you were in college, but, like caster oil, you feel better when it goes down.
Published 15 days ago by Happy Shop
3.0 out of 5 stars Profound sadness of aging
While I thought the book was slow in the beginning, I was delighted to find the theme of aging so respectfully treated by Joyce. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Katy
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartbreakingly Lovely Story
So typically James Joyce. I have read it three times and seem to come away with something new each time.
Published 2 months ago by Jean A. Weathers
5.0 out of 5 stars Small and gentle
More an extended vignette than a novella, "The Dead" is a tender, loving observance of one night in an extended family's Christmas holiday party. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Kyle Michel Sullivan
4.0 out of 5 stars sad in a way
How one song can bring back painful memories, and how the husband has to learn respect for other,s feeling. Total moodchange in the wife
Published 6 months ago by rick
5.0 out of 5 stars a good intro, or an essential side view
it's a good intro to Joyce's method and concerns.... the close focus on people's relationships and interactions together.... Read more
Published 12 months ago by firao
5.0 out of 5 stars Joyce never disappoints
I love the Dubliners and having this short story in its' own little ebook is great. As another reviewer said it reads like poetry. Read more
Published 15 months ago by ioBuddha
4.0 out of 5 stars The Dead by James Joyce
This, of course, is a classic. It is a small, intense description of a private party in Dublin in the early 1900's in wintertime. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Diana, Dublin
5.0 out of 5 stars Joyce
It's James Joyce. Need I say more? Yes, I need thirteen more word to keep Amazon satisfied with my views on this book. There! Enough said.
Published 17 months ago by J. Jefferson Davis
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