I’ve always liked Dubliners unironically, even after I was informed that it apparently is something people hated to read in school (maybe that was just my friends, please enlighten me on this). A separate print of The Dead was one of the first books I got from the adult section at my local library, when I was still very much a child and I remember being blown away by the beauty of it.
Two or three years ago I finally read the whole book and as a huge fan of short story collections in general, I was enamoured by it. I love how these mundane seeming stories all culminate into these short moments of painful realisation and beauty, how shopping for your sweetheart at a closing bazaar can be such a profound experience and how thinking you’re above love and physical affection can cause so much misery that you may just discover far too late. All steeped in symbolism and Irish national identity, of course.
Last year I got the audiobook in my decision to finally open up to them, the version I’m reviewing here was read by Andrew Scott and he is an interesting one: He’s one of those who ‘act’ the book, which can lead to unintentionally funny/dramatic moments, especially when he’s doing the voices of old women or young boys. On the other hand, Joyce uses “pronoun said + adjective” clauses quite a few times in this and Scott was the first reader who NAILED these often so poetic descriptors. If someone said something “thinly veiled” he read it as “thinly veiled”, the emotions conveyed in this are top-notch and despite him having the most soothing voice in history, you’re actually actively paying attention and you’re not put to sleep.
I recently watched The Wife (2017) where the last story/novella gets quoted in interesting circumstances, therefore was super excited for The Dead and kept delaying it in anticipation. Last night I had a mild anxiety attack and turned on the audible app to finish it and to think of something else than my failures in life, while the dark world outside turned into this:
It was an experience, the melancholia of the last moments hit me twice as hard with the snow falling outside and again this simply excellent, almost ASMR like conveyance of what it feels like to realise you have never loved this deeply and how life and death are one, really were A Moment. One that calmed me down and immediately made me feel better, weirdly enough, don’t know if that will work for others but this gave me much needed peace.