Hear James Joyce’s Great Short Story “The Dead,” Performed by Cynthia Nixon & Colum McCann

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The Dead” is the last – and most mem­o­rable – short sto­ry in James Joyce’s first book, Dublin­ers. Set dur­ing a New Year’s feast in 1904, the sto­ry focus­es on Gabriel Con­roy, a plump, bespec­ta­cled young man who is painful­ly aware of his own social inep­ti­tude. As he nav­i­gates one minor faux pas after the next – mak­ing a poor­ly received joke here, clum­si­ly par­ry­ing a barbed joke there – he comes to real­ize over the course of the par­ty that his beau­ti­ful, dis­tant wife has a past he nev­er knew.

James’s sto­ry is filled with such humor, atten­tion to char­ac­ter and musi­cal­i­ty of lan­guage that it seems to cry out to be read aloud. The NPR series Select­ed Shorts heed­ed that call and presents the entire sto­ry per­formed live by Cyn­thia Nixon, of Sex and the City fame, who reads the first half, and by Irish author Colum McCann, who reads part of the sec­ond.

The read­ing will be added to our col­lec­tion of Free Audio Books. Also find the text of James’ great sto­ry in our col­lec­tion, 800 Free eBooks for iPad, Kin­dle & Oth­er Devices. To learn about the long and dif­fi­cult pub­li­ca­tion of Dublin­ers, check out Sean Hutchin­son’s post over at Men­tal Floss.

Note: you can down­load the audio as MP3s by click­ing the down­load arrow at the top of each audio clip above.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

James Joyce’s Dublin Cap­tured in Vin­tage Pho­tos from 1897 to 1904

James Joyce, With His Eye­sight Fail­ing, Draws a Sketch of Leopold Bloom (1926)

James Joyce’s Ulysses: Down­load the Free Audio Book

Hear All of Finnegans Wake Read Aloud: A 35 Hour Read­ing

See our list of Free Online Lit­er­a­ture Cours­es

Jonathan Crow is a Los Ange­les-based writer and film­mak­er whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hol­ly­wood Reporter, and oth­er pub­li­ca­tions. You can fol­low him at @jonccrow. And check out his blog Veep­to­pus, fea­tur­ing lots of pic­tures of bad­gers and even more pic­tures of vice pres­i­dents with octo­pus­es on their heads.  The Veep­to­pus store is here.

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