The Dead, James Joyce, 1914
In this passage, Gabriel Conroy reflects on his wife's former lover, Michael Furey.
The air of the room chilled his shoulders. He stretched himself cautiously along under
the sheets and lay down beside his wife. One by one they were all becoming shades.
Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade
and wither dismally with age. He thought of how she who lay beside him had locked
in her heart for so many years that image of her lover's eyes when he had told her
that he did not wish to live.
Generous tears filled Gabriel's eyes. He had never felt like that himself towards any
woman, but he knew that such a feeling must be love. The tears gathered more thickly
in his eyes and in the partial darkness he imagined he saw the form of a young man
standing under a dripping tree. Other forms were near. His soul had approached that
region where dwell the vast hosts of the dead. He was conscious of, but could not
apprehend, their wayward and flickering existence. His own identity was fading out
into a grey impalpable world: the solid world itself, which these dead had one time
reared and lived in, was dissolving and dwindling.
A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It had begun to snow again.
He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight.
The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes, the newspapers
were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark
central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther
westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too,
upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried.
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.
Joyce, James. "The Dead." Dubliners. London: Grant Richards, 1914. N. pag. Online-literature.com. The Literature Network. Web. 21 Apr. 2016.
The literary style of this passage is MOST accurately described as