Here at At it Again! we love stories that are closely linked to a city or place. It’s fascinating to be able to walk the same streets as the characters and imagining meeting them. Have you seen our graphic guide Romping through Dubliners, a fun and interactive take on Irish writer James Joyce’s fifteen short stories. The stories in Dubliners are fresh however many times you read them, never losing their power to unnerve you as they unfold.
At the moment, my favourite story from Dubliners is After the Race. It’s the one in the fast lane, where a Frenchman, a Canadian and a Hungarian take an Irishman for a ride. The boy racers are joined by an Englishman for dinner in a fancy hotel. Staggering out into the night, they bump into an American who invites them to his yacht for supper, dancing and cards. The stakes get higher as they drink a toast to the last big game. The Irishman knows he’s losing but he can’t stop…
Women’s Christmas is celebrated on 6th January. It’s the Feast of the Epiphany, the night that baby Jesus was revealed to the three wise men. James Joyce’s wonderful short story The Dead captures the atmosphere of an Edwardian soiree on that night, showing that the tradition of genuine warm-hearted courteous Irish hospitality is still alive among us.
In the story, Gabriel Conroy is trying to hold it together at his aunts’ annual party for Women’s Christmas. He and his wife Gretta are the star guests but he would rather be out walking in the snow. Instead, he has to dance with a passionate nationalist and babysit the resident drunk. Then he is expected to carve the goose and make a speech. Gretta is entranced when someone sings the Lass of Aughrim. During the carriage ride to their hotel, Gabriel looks forward to making love to her. But Gretta flings herself on the bed, weeping that the song Lass of Aughrim has reminded her of a young lover who died tragically. Gabriel’s passion turns to loneliness. As Gretta sleeps, he imagines the snow falling softly on the living and the dead…
Why not throw a The Dead party on 6th January to celebrate James Joyce’s masterpiece. Encourage your guests to dress up all Edwardian and serve them up a goose supper based on the menu in the story. Invite someone to read out Gabriel’s speech. In the story, they enjoy some Irish dancing and traditional songs around the piano. Here’s a video of the Siege of Ennis and Dirty old Town to give you ideas. It’s fun to ask your guests to prepare a party piece in advance. Or you could invite people round and watch John Huston’s film of The Dead accompanied by a hot port or two.
Help with Planning
To help you plan your evening, here’s a link to the full text of The Dead by James Joyce.
Pick up a copy of Romping through Dubliners to help you plan your The Dead dinner. Here’s our on line shop.
This blog post is by Jessica who fell in love on Bloomsday and has been trying to figure it out ever since.