Tag Archives: the dead

Go Boldly Into That Other World

The Dead  by James Joyce  (1907)


 Tuesday’s Tale   August 27, 2019

You’ve probably heard this line, variations, or parts of this quotation:

“Pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age.”

James Joyce at his finest! He has many lines in his writings that haunt us, which never seem to die or fade with age.

Our story opens with a dinner party—everyone is chatting, dancing, observing, judging. We are knee-deep in the ritualism of ordinary life of middle-class people living in Dublin, Ireland. Gabriel Conway, a man with personal anxieties, worries about the social norms of the time, is full of self-doubt as a writer. There’s not much plot, the action slow, and we do meander quite a bit. But, we are brought into layers of human behavior, and that is the wave of intensity that keeps you reading. The writing holds you with an emotional grip and with Gabriel’s drama. The characters are fascinating, especially his wife Gretta, who can wring out your heart.

As with all James Joyce’s work, this is serious literature. You do not have to be a literature major to enjoy The Dead. The story has several gut-punches along the way. At the finish, we witness two epiphanies, and they couldn’t have been more beautifully written.

If you want a short story that contemplates mortality with the experience of living, death, and the dead, this one will bring you there deeply.

Some of the most haunting lines that  got me …

“He asked himself what is a woman standing on the stairs in the shadow, listening to distant music, a symbol of. If he were a painter he would paint her in that attitude. Her blue felt hat would show off the bronze of her hair against the darkness and the dark panels of her skirt would show off the light ones. Distant Music he would call the picture if he were a painter.”

“In one letter that he had written to her then, he had said: Why is it that words like these seem to me so dull and cold? Is it because there is no word tender enough to be your name?”

The final page has one of the most astonishing moments of a winter night you will ever read.








Read the short story here at Ebooks.Adelaide.edu


Listen to the audio by AudioBook https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B9tMtsSW1HY

James Joyce ( 2 February 1882 – 13 January 1941  ). Ernest Hemingway was Joyce’s drinking buddy among the Paris bars and a major champion of Ulysses. “Joyce said to me he was afraid his writing was too suburban and that maybe he should get around a bit and see the world.”

In 1941 Joyce was admitted to a Zurich hospital and slipped into a coma after surgery. His last words were  “Does nobody understand?”

James Joyce’s Grave, Zurich

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free reading at Reading Fiction Blog. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, suspense, supernatural, ghost stories, ‘quiet horror,’ crime, sci-fi, and mainstream fiction.

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Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica   NewYorkerFictionOnline

 Lovecraft Ezine   Parlor of Horror

HorrorNews.net   Fangoria.com   

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine   Chuck Windig’s Terrible Minds

HorrorAddicts.net     Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com     

Monster Librarian      HorrorTalk.com 

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed


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Watching A Dead Body in White Linen

A Dead Body  by Anton Chekhov (1886)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror  June 4, 2013

How many stories have you read where the dead body is the main character? This short-short (really a snapshot of a moment in fiction, a 15-minute read) by Chekhov is probably not one his most praised pieces of work. We know Chekhov for his brilliant plays, for his literary and spiritual intelligence, but he’s not well known for his tales of terror. Most would be surprised to hear that his first short story sold to Dragonfly in 1880; thus began his career as a crime and mystery writer.

I liked A Dead Body because the story does not really “develop” for the reader, but more “envelopes” the reader. It’s highly mysterious and a puzzle that still haunts me with its drama and symbolism. In fact, everything here is emblematic and makes for a fascinating attempt to draw connections. Dan Brown could learn something from Chekhov’s subtle and elusive prose.

The scene opens on an August night in the misty forest. A dead man is shrouded  in white linen on the ground. A wooden cross is upon his chest. Two peasant men are sitting by “watching.”  One man is smart. The other man, Syoma, is not so smart and doesn’t really understand; he is told to “Think!”

There is perfect stillness.

There is sleepiness.  A small camp fire is burning down. There is mention of an owl … a crane … three minutes … three days. A soul.

The “watch” is silent.

And then a stranger in a monk’s cassock, a pilgrim, comes by. There is talk of outer darkness, murder, and suicide. There is an offer of money, five kopecks. The monk makes a movement of five steps.

There is the fear of the dead.

Chekhov weaves us into a moment of pure suspension. Don’t miss it because the ending will cause you to say, What? What happened here? Typical of Chekhovian endings, which often just suddenly stop or hit you with the unexpected. In fact, the absolute last image still has me captured … as it will you.

Take fifteen minutes to read this story that is likely a forgotten and puzzling tale. And if you have any insight as to the meaning of the last line, do post your thoughts in the Comments. I’m starving for opinions on this one!

Read the full text at The Literature Network




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