James Joyce was an Irish novelist and poet, considered to be one of the most influential writers of the early 20th century. Although best known for Ulysses and The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, he also wrote a number of shorter works. Chief among them is "The Dead," which was published as part of a collection in 1914.
Like many of his stories, "The Dead" develops toward a moment of painful self-awareness and spiritual awakening which Joyce described as an "epiphany." Most critics consider this the finest of his short works and often describe it as "a masterpiece." One critic called it "Perhaps the greatest written in the English language." In 1987, John Huston directed a movie version as his last feature film. In 1999 it became a Broadway musical. After a successful run on Broadway, the play won a Tony for Best Book.
"With a sure touch, beautiful language and the omniscient and impersonal narrator favored in the last century, The Dead is the equivalent of an entire Flaubert or Balzac novel encapsulated in a short story. It shares with novels of hundreds of pages the capture of an entire social world....There is an unforced beauty in the dialog unparalleled by other modern authors." (The Ethical Spectacle)
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