Letter: Dinner with Joyce

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The Independent Online
Sir: In joining your debate on 'grazing' and the benefits of a sit-down meal with family and friends, C. G. Ashill (letter, 4 August) attempts to draw political inferences from James Joyce's description of the dinner party in The Dead.

He interprets Joyce's description of the bottles on display as 'the massing of two rival armies . . . the colour differentiation of the bottles . . . obviously represent(s) the Republicans and the Black and Tans'. The Dead is one of several short stories from Dubliners, most of which were written in Trieste in 1905, and published in 1914 - two years before the Easter Rising, and some five years before the formation of the Black and Tans.

Irish Nationalism is briefly discussed during the evening, but Joyce's description of the water bottle labels simply refers to a proprietary brand, as with the labels of stout (Guinness) and ale (Bass).

Yours sincerely,


Brussels, Belgium

5 August