James Joyce and Snow 'farther westward, softly falling'. . .

I couldn't sleep last night and got up to stand at the window and watch the snow drifting past in that strange blueish light that snow seems to bring with it. I can't ever watch the snow falling out of the sky without thinking of James Joyce's story 'The Dead' - one of the most perfect short stories ever written.  John Huston's film captured the feel of it perfectly and the ending has stayed with me ever since I watched it, just as the last paragraph of the story haunts me. It gives me a little shiver - part sadness, part romance, part response to beauty.  'It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns.  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.'

This week the BBC Book at Bedtime is serialising The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, which you can find here:


  1. I think "The Dead" is my favourite novella. Perfect in every way. And about as beautiful as a text can be. And somehow winter makes it true.


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