Unlike the preceding stories in Dubliners, which convey the basic theme of paralysis, "The Dead" marks a departure in Joyce's narrative technique. As one critic notes, in this final story of Dubliners: "The world of constant figures has become one of forces that, in relation to each other, vary in dimension and direction" (Halper 31). Epstein has offered some insight into Joyce's technique in Portrait: "Each section . . . contains significant 'timeless' moments in the life of the artist, selected from a lifetime of events. The reader's attention traces the line of the curve from one point to the next until the complete curve is defined. . . . Both he [the artist] and the reader became completely aware of the landscape of his soul and the nature of it" (103).
The above excerpt is provided for the benefit of the student only. The complete essay begins below.
To venture into the morass of Joycean scholarship reminds one of the closing lines of the poem "Dover Beach" by Matthew Arnold. It reads:
...The world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night. ( 1148 )
The sense of anxious hope captured in these lines is much like the struggle experienced by one seeking to offer a fresh perspective on the complex works of James Joyce. On a deeper level, though, the poem suggests an important aspect of Joyce's prose. Arnold's poem is often singled out as a prime exa...
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.... New York: Penguin, 1976.
Levin, Harry. "The Artist." James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man: Text, Criticism, and Notes. Ed. Chester G. Anderson. New York: Penguin, 1968. 399-415.
Loe, Thomas. "'The Dead' as Novella." James Joyce Quarterly 28 (1991): 485-98.
Power, Arthur. Conversations with James Joyce. Ed. Clive Hart. London: Millington, 1974.
Torchiana, Donald T. Backgrounds for Joyces' Dubliners. Winchester, MA: Allen and Unwin, 1986.
Welsh, James M. "The Dead." Masterplots II: Short Story Series 5 Ed. Frank N. Magill. Pasadena, CA: Salem Press, 1986, 510-15.
Winters, Kirk. "Joyce's Ulysses as Poem: Rhythm, Rhyme, and Color in "Wandering Rocks." Emporia State Research Studies 31 (Winter 1983), 5-44.
Wright, David G. Characters of Joyce. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1983.
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