Joyce "after" Joyce: Oates's "The Dead"

Taylor, Gordon O.
June 1983
Southern Review;Summer1983, Vol. 19 Issue 3, p596
Academic Journal
Literary Criticism
The article presents information on Joyce Carol Oates's story "The Dead." At the end of the story, a woman named Ilena lies in a darkened Detroit hotel room, next to a man merging in her half-sleep with other lovers, a former husband, a dead boy once devoted to her. Her sense of her own identity is "drawing away, fading, dissolving." Except in her title, Oates comes no nearer than this to sustained verbal approximation of a passage from the text of James Joyce's "The Dead," altered in point of view and the conception of a character's consciousness, shifted in cultural space and time, but clearly calling on the reader to bring to. the experience of her tale an experience of Joyce's. Yet Oates's concluding passage is only the last of a number of interlocking allusions to the Joyce story, through which she seeks to justify a notion of her own as written "after" and "in honor" of Joyce's original, while constituting a separate and original act of her creative will.


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