The Dead

James Joyce & Robert Berry, 2014

The Dead is a limited edition handmade book, reproducing the original 1914 text of Joyce’s short story, together with hand-printed illustrations by the American graphic artist Robert Berry. It is co-published by Stoney Road Press and the James Joyce Centre, to mark the centenary of the publication of Dubliners. ‘The Dead’, the final and longest story of James Joyce’s collection Dubliners, is recognised as one of the most accomplished short stories in the English language and stands as a deft, subtle portrait of everyday life in turn-of-the-century Dublin.

Unfolding over an evening in early January 1904, the story takes as its subject the epiphanic revelations of Gabriel Conroy. The tale also presents an affectionate portrait of the social life of Joyce’s city, presenting an unforgettable cast of characters who have gathered at 15 Ushers Island for Misses Morkan’s annual musical gathering. Following the party, Gabriel and his wife Gretta retire to the Gresham Hotel. Peering out at the snow through a window of the hotel, Gabriel is faced with the realisation that the shallowness of his feelings for his wife has been overshadowed by the ghostly presence of her former sweetheart Michael Furey. The scene is both a beautiful rendering of one man’s spiritual awakening and a significant moment that deepens the structural unity of a collection concerned with the moral and metaphysical paralysis of a people.

Released one hundred years ago this year, Joyce struggled to have his collection published over nine years, submitting the book eighteen times to a total of fifteen publishers. Writing to the book’s eventual publisher Grant Richards in 1906, Joyce stated that his intention was “to write a chapter of the moral history of my country and I chose Dublin for the scene because that city seemed to be the centre of paralysis.” This is perhaps best articulated in the masterful ‘The Dead’.

“His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.”

The book is limited to 150 copies and is letterpress printed by hand on a Swiss proofing press. The illustrations are hand drawn by the artist and transferred to letterpress plates and each one is then hand printed with the text. The paper is 250 gsm cotton rag and the book is hand bound by Antiquarian Bookcrafts in Dublin and presented with a matching slip case.

The Dead is in the collections of University College Dublin, University College Cork, Princeton University Library, Univeristy of Notre Dame Hesburgh Library, University at Buffalo Lockwood Library, University of Tulsa McFarlin Library, & Boston Public Library.

Read more about the edition in this Books Ireland article. For further details please contact Stoney Road Press.

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