The Dead is the last story in James Joyce’s Dubliners and was made into a film in 1987 by Irish director John Huston. It was the last film he made before he died. His son Tony wrote the screenplay and his daughter Anjelica Huston starred in the lead role.

The story takes place in Dublin in 1904, at a Christmas dinner party to which Gabriel Conroy and his wife Gretta are among the guests. During the party, some music reminds Gretta of a boy she loved many years before. Back at their hotel room she tells Gabriel, for the first time, how 17 year old Michael Furey loved her so much he died for her. Gabriel realises how he never really knew his wife and perhaps never loved her like the young boy did. He wonders if it is better to die young and full of passion or old without knowing real love.

Although Joyce is famous for his stream-of-consciousness prose and psychological understanding, rather than his exciting plots, The Dead was very well received and was nominated for 2 Oscars. It is considered by most critics an excellent adaptation of an ‘un-filmable’ story and the great director’s last masterpiece.

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Illustration by ​Libero Gozzini and Ivan Canu, taken from A Selection from Dubliners by James Joyce, Reading and Training, Step 5 (B2.2)