July 14th, 2006

The Dead

All the other stories are warm-up exercises for the Dead.

The Dead is a novel in miniature, with a huge cast of characters and a multiplicity of themes.

At one level it's a riposte to A Christmas Carol.

I'm sure this has been pointed out many times before, but it's a ghost story.

But who are exactly is/are the ghosts?

Joyve could have died after this and still have been recognised as a great master. Ulysses is merely The Dead gone to seed.

At this stage of his career Joyce still reaches unthinkingly for the obvious adjective, the  tired simile. The prose is admirably clear, but rarely experimental .

Poor old Gabriel is first cousin to Eliot's Prufrock, Pound's Mauberley- a typically limp, self-hating, early 20th century male. 

Molly Ivors is the future- mocking, ideological, unkind. Gabriel is a little in love with her, but feebly warns against her- as well he might!  She will bring home horrors from her trip "out west".