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Book Title: De doden|
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Reader ratings: 7.8
The author of the book: James Joyce
Edition: Athenaeum - Polak & Van Gennep
Date of issue: 2016
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ISBN 13: No data
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 4.80 MB
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As with life, there are the small experiences so basic and common to most people that evokes a primal force from deep within. One of them of course is the family get-together, especially at Christmas time, a time where affecting memories are brought to the surface, of loved ones no longer here. Through all the chit-chat, artifices, tensions, jokes, warmth, laughter, and faithful hugs, however brief these moments are, there is a poignant notion stirred by the knowledge that we all come from somebody, and most of the somebodies we come from happen to be dead.
James Joyce has penned a beautifully crafted narrative which could be viewed as either a long short-story or a short Novella, dealing with themes of love and loss as well as raising questions about the nature of the Irish identity, something that is strongly pointed out here. Set during the festive period, it's the Morkans annual Christmas dinner party at their upstairs rooms in Dublin, an event Aunt Julia and Aunt Kate, and their niece Mary Jane, have hosted in sumptuous style for 30 years. Their regular guests for this sumptuous gathering include nephew Gabriel Conroy and his wife Gretta; Mr. Browne, a dear friend even if he is Protestant; the dependably inebriated Freddy Malins and his long-suffering mother, Mrs. Malins; and the more recent arrivals, the testy nationalist Miss Molly Ivors and the opera singer Bartell D’Arcy. All are here, in high spirits for what should be another splendid evening in each others company.
It may be 1904, but they do no different to what families everywhere have done since, they gather around feeling merry, sing and dance, tell jokes and stories. They reminisce, demur shyly from compliments, and share fluttering covert anxieties and brief bitter memories. Gabriel, who I guess could be seen as the main character, will rise at the end of the dinner table to make his annual florid speech. The main difference this year is that Julia’s weak spells are more pronounced, and Gretta is held in unusual reveries. Earlier, Miss Ivors rattles Gabriel on his Irish identity, as he publishes weekly a literary column in a newspaper with unionist sympathies. He becomes disaffected, and retreats into himself, and now is bothered by his impending speech. By the end of the evening, as guests filter out, and goodbyes are said, Gretta appears lost in thought with a deep sense of melancholy, whilst Gabriel is looking forward to some intimate time spent with his wife at a hotel. Gretta's lack of interest though during their stay is down a piece of music heard during the party, being reminded of a young man from her youth. And this is where in her mind, the dead come back to life.
Joyce’s crystalline prose, along with some wonderfully observed dialogue had me in awe, it was all the little subtleties that made the biggest differences making for a scintillating read which confronted the fragility of the human spirit, and our relationship with the souls and memories of the Dead. As short-stories go, it's damn near perfection.
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Read information about the authorJames Joyce, Irish novelist, noted for his experimental use of language in such works as Ulysses (1922) and Finnegans Wake (1939). Joyce's technical innovations in the art of the novel include an extensive use of interior monologue; he used a complex network of symbolic parallels drawn from the mythology, history, and literature, and created a unique language of invented words, puns, and allusions.
James Joyce was born in Dublin, on February 2, 1882, as the son of John Stanislaus Joyce, an impoverished gentleman, who had failed in a distillery business and tried all kinds of professions, including politics and tax collecting. Joyce's mother, Mary Jane Murray, was ten years younger than her husband. She was an accomplished pianist, whose life was dominated by the Roman Catholic Church. In spite of their poverty, the family struggled to maintain a solid middle-class facade.
From the age of six Joyce, was educated by Jesuits at Clongowes Wood College, at Clane, and then at Belvedere College in Dublin (1893-97). In 1898 he entered the University College, Dublin. Joyce's first publication was an essay on Ibsen's play When We Dead Awaken. It appeared in the Fortnightly Review in 1900. At this time he also began writing lyric poems.
After graduation in 1902 the twenty-year-old Joyce went to Paris, where he worked as a journalist, teacher and in other occupations under difficult financial conditions. He spent a year in France, returning when a telegram arrived saying his mother was dying. Not long after her death, Joyce was traveling again. He left Dublin in 1904 with Nora Barnacle, a chambermaid who he married in 1931.
Joyce published Dubliners in 1914, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man in 1916, a play Exiles in 1918 and Ulysses in 1922. In 1907 Joyce had published a collection of poems, Chamber Music.
At the outset of the First World War, Joyce moved with his family to Zürich. In Zürich Joyce started to develop the early chapters of Ulysses, which was first published in France because of censorship troubles in the Great Britain and the United States, where the book became legally available only in 1933. In March 1923 Joyce started in Paris his second major work, Finnegans Wake, suffering at the same time chronic eye troubles caused by glaucoma. The first segment of the novel appeared in Ford Madox Ford's transatlantic review in April 1924, as part of what Joyce called Work in Progress. The final version was published in 1939.
Some critics considered the work a masterpiece, though many readers found it incomprehensible. After the fall of France in WWII, Joyce returned to Zürich, where he died on January 13, 1941, still disappointed with the reception of Finnegans Wake.
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