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Finnegan's Wake ()

Anthony Burgess : 99 Best Modern Novels (1934-84)

    The demand I make of my reader is that he should devote his whole life to reading my works.
        -James Joyce

Okay, here's the first paragraph:

    riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius
    vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs.

(it's actually the end of the last sentence in the book). I defy anyone to honestly say that they would have any desire to read further (in fact, I am certain that no one has ever actually read this book). But, lest you think it must get better, here's a random paragraph from later in the book:

    So olff for his topheetuck the ruck made raid, aslick aslegs would run; and he ankered on his
    hunkers with the belly belly prest. Asking: What's my muffinstuffinaches for these times? To weat:
    Breath and bother and whatarcurss. That breath no bother but worrawarrawurms. And Slim
    shallave some.

Uh-huh, fascinating stuff, eh?

Here's the cover blurb from the version I have, as written by Joseph Campbell, one of the folks who tried popularizing Joyce:

    Finnegan's Wake is a mighty allegory of the fall and redemption of mankind...a compound fabe,
    symphony, and nightmare...Its mechanics resemble those of a dream, a dream which has freed the
    author from the necesssities of common logic and has enabled him to compress all periods of
    history, all phases of individual and racial development, into a circular design, of which every part is
    beginning, middle and end.

Let me just point out that "freed...from...logic", is code for "it doesn't make sense". And the blather about circular design reflects something I recall reading about how Joyce intended the reader to be able to read the book from any point and in any direction with equal felicity. It worked; it's idiotic from start to finish.

So what's the end result? Well, you remember that old example that's used to demonstrate the magnitude of infinity--if you set down infinty monkeys in front of infinity typewriters (I suppose now it's computers) eventually one of them types Hamlet. Well, I think it's safe to suppose that in the meantime, they're typing Finnegan's Wake.

Now, some folks claim that it should be read for the beauty of it's language alone. But let me just say this, you'ld get en equally enjoyable aural experience by listening to the dialogue of the Ewoks from a Star Wars movie and it won't make any less sense.

GRADE: G (as long as we're being experimental, let's go lower than F)


Grade: (F)


James Joyce Links:

    -WIKIPEDIA: James Joyce
    -ESSAY: James Joyce Was a Complicated Man: Ireland rejected him; did he reject it back? (HENRY OLIVER, MAR 12, 2024, The Fitzwilliam)
    -ESSAY: A Book Club of Two: The Time I Started a James Joyce Reading Group in College: Kristopher Jansma on the Special Magic of Reading “Ulysses” (Kristopher Jansma, June 14, 2024, litHub)
    -ESSAY: Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’: a new reading (Jeffrey Meyers, The Article)
    -ESSAY: James Joyce, John Senior, & the Illumination of the Modern World (R. Jared Staudt, November 17th, 2023, Imaginative Conservative)
    -ESSAY: James Joyce’s divine comedy: For the Irish, atheism will always be religious (TERRY EAGLETON, 8/30/22, unHerd)
-ESSAY: The earned smugness of Ulysses readers: Not even Joyce’s biggest fans can say it’s an easy read (Mark Solomons, June 16, 2023, Spectator)
    -ESSAY: Misreading Ulysses (Sally Rooney December 7, 2022, Paris Review)
    -ESSAY: James Joyce’s divine comedy: For the Irish, atheism will always be religious (TERRY EAGLETON, 8/29/22, UnHerd)
    -ESSAY: On James Joyce, Ulysses, and the Irish Jewish Community: Jo Glanville Chronicles Her Family's Story in Ireland (Jo Glanville, August 17, 2022, LitHub)
    -ESSAY: walking words, words walking: There’s never been a better to read James Joyce’s Ulysses (don’t be scared!) (COLIN FLEMING, 06/13/2022, Smart Set)
    -ESSAY: You Must Read This: Terence Killeen on the monumental rewards to be found in Ulysses (Terence Killeen, June 11 2022, Independent IE)
    -ESSAY: Spinoza’s shillelagh: Some thorny issues in the first words of Ulysses (Paul Muldoon, 6/17/22, TLS)
    -REVIEW ESSAY: Portrait of the artist’s politics: Ulysses at 100 (Emer Nolan, 6/02/22, TLS)
    -ESSAY: James Joyce’s Humanism: On its centenary, the classic Irish novel promotes tolerance over violent extremism. (Brendan Ruberry, 6/16/22, Persuasion)
    -AUDIO: : Listen to the first ever recording of James Joyce reading from Ulysses (Emily Temple, February 2, 2021, Lit Hub)
    -ETEXT: Read the Original Serialized Edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses (1918) (Open Culture, February 4th, 2022)
-ESSAY: Borges Translates Joyce Who Translates Himself (Mark Harman, March 30, 2022, NER)
    -ESSAY: Every picture tells a story: When James Joyce and Italo Svevo played bowls (Riccardo Cepach, 1/15/21, TLS)
    -PODCAST: The Critic Books Podcast: 100 years of Ulysses: What has changed since Joyce’s novel was first published? (The Critic, 2/01/22)
    -SPECIAL EDITION: Ulysses at 100 (Our Editors, June 1, 2022, The American Scholar)
-ESSAY: Portrait of the artist’s politics: Ulysses at 100 (Emer Nolan, 6/02/22, TLS)
    -ESSAY: What Joyce Got Wrong (About The Interior Monologue); An Interlude In The Language And Thought Series (David J. Lobina, 3/14/22, 3 Quarks)
    -ESSAY: Still Rejoyceing After All These Years (Thomas O’Dwyer, 2/14/22, 3 Quarks)
    -ESSAY: Dangerous, voyeuristic, transgressive, exciting: Anne Enright on James Joyce’s Ulysses at 100: My mother considered it a dirty text, but this profoundly democratic book has liberated female Irish authors (Anne Enright, 1/29/22, The Guardian)
    -ESSAY: The Seductions of “Ulysses”: Since its publication, a century ago, James Joyce’s epic has acquired a fearsome reputation for difficulty. But its great subject, soppy as it may seem, is love. (Merve Emre, 2/14/22, The New Yorker)
    -TRIBUTE: Ulysses Turns 100!: Celebrating a Modernist Classic (Literary Hub, 2/02/22)
-ESSAY: The Book in the World (Joe Cleary, February 2022, Dublin Review of Books)
    -ESSAY: Censoring Ulysses: In reviewing the UK Home Office files on James Joyce’s Ulysses, a historian found baffled officials afraid to bring more attention to it. (Livia Gershon February 2, 2022, JStor)
    -ESSAY: Ulysses at 100: ‘Joyce gets up people’s noses and that’s what a great writer should do’ (Kirsty Blake Knox, January 22 2022, Independent IE)
    -ESSAY: James Joyce, Nora and the odyssey of upheaval that led to a masterpiece: As the centenary of its publication approaches, we can see how Ulysses was shaped by a nomadic existence and strong women in the author’s life (Nuala O’Connor, February 02 2022, Independent IE)
    -ESSAY: The Ultimate Novel (Thomas Jones, 2/02/22, London Review of Books)
    -ESSAY: How Ulysses shaped the modern world: 100 years on, we still live in the shadow of James Joyce's masterwork. (Patrick West, 2/01/22, spiked)
    -ESSAY: A World of Waste, Stripped of Transcendence: James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’ at 100 (Jared Marcel Pollen, 31 Jan 2022, Quillette)
    -ESSAY: How to enjoy the greatest book you’ve never read: Ulysses by James Joyce has a reputation of being impenetrable and impossible, but there is a way to make it easier to understand, and appreciate, what is considered one of the best novels ever written (Robert Gogan, January 30 2022, Independent IE)
    -ESSAY: Deadline “Ulysses” (hilip Keel Geheber, 2/02/22, LA Review of Books)
-ESSAY: Dear Mr Joyce: an essay by Edna O’Brien: As Ulysses turns 100, O’Brien tries to pin down what its extraordinary author was really like (Edna O'Brien, 2/02/22, The Guardian)
-ESSAY: Eduardo Arroyo’s Dreamy, Abstract Illustrations of Ulysses: A Sneak Peek at a New Edition of James Joyce’s Classic (Literary Hub, January 27, 2022)
    -THE MILLIONS INTERVIEWS: An Unexpected Encounter: On the Illustrated ‘Ulysses’: The Millions spoke with Judith Gurewich about Arroyo’s legacy, the challenges of reading Joyce, and her international collaboration with Galaxia Gutenburg. (Sophia Stewart January 6, 2022, The millions)
-ESSAY: Reading James Joyce Amidst Winter Snow, ‘Where Dwell the Vast Hosts of the Dead’ (Herman Goodden, 14 Jan 2022, Quillette)
    -ESSAY: Swift and Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’ (Jeffrey Meyers, 1/05/22, The Article)
    -ESSAY: How to Read Ulysses By the Numbers: Breaking Down a Surprisingly Revealing Technique (Eric Bulson, January 11, 2021, LitHub)
    -ESSAY: The joy of Joyce’s Ulysses is that it isn’t intuitive at all: Though the classic book is considered a stream-of-consciousness novel, we should perhaps regard it as the opposite (John Scholar, 1/24/21, Independent)
    -ESSAY: Why James Joyce said he was a Jesuit (but rebelled against the Catholic Church) (Ray Cavanaugh, January 03, 2017, America)
    -ESSAY: 'You ought to allude to me as a Jesuit,' Joyce once remarked (Bruce Bradley, , Jun 14, 2004, Irish Times)
-REVIEW: of Ulysses by James Joyce (Edmund Wilson, New Republic)
    -REVIEW ESSAY: Dubliners: Reading Ulysses is a kind of strenuous dream (Anne Enright, 1/13/22, NY Review of Books)
    -REVIEW: Ulysses Unbound: A Reader’s Companion to James Joyce’s Ulysses by Terence Killeen (Jeremy-Noel Tod, The Prospect)
    -REVIEW: of Ulysses Unbound (Dermot Bolger, Independent IE)
    -REVIEW: of The Guide to James Joyce’s Ulysses Patrick Hastings & Ulysses, James Joyce: Illustrated by Eduardo Arroyo (JP O'Malley, Independent IE)
-REVIEW: of Annotations to James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’ by Sam Slote, Marc A. Mamigonian and John Turner (Colm Toibin, LRB)

Book-related and General Links:
    -Bill Cadbury's Finnegans Wake Page
   -Encyclopaedia Britannica:  Your search: "james joyce"
   -Work in Progress: The Writings of James Joyce (Temple University)
   -International James Joyce Foundation
   -James Joyce Resource Center (primary reference source for anyone interested in Joyce studies)
   -In Bloom: A James Joyce Homepage
   -James Joyce (1882-1941)(Kobe University)
   -The Brazen Head: A James Joyce Public House
   -OVERVIEW: James Joyce 1882-1941 (Brown University)
   -IQ Infinity: The Unknown James Joyce
    -The Writings of James Joyce
    -James Joyce Web Page
    -World Wide Dubliners
    -Literary Research Guide: James Joyce (1882 - 1941)
    -Wallace Gray's Notes for James Joyce's "The Dead"
   -PROFILE: Top 100 People of the Century: James Joyce (Paul Gray, Time)
   -ANNOTATED ETEXT: Finnegans Wake by James Joyce
   -ARTICLE: The Fate of Joyce Family Letters Causes Angry Literary Debate (CARYN JAMES, NY Times)
    -ESSAY: Dublin Journal; 90 Years Ago, Leopold Bloom Took a Walk . . .  (JAMES F. CLARITY, NY Times)
    -ESSAY:  Richard Ellmann: The Politics of Joyce
    -ESSAY: LITERARY FOOTNOTE; ELLMANN REJOYCING (Richard Ellmann, NY Times Book Review)
    -ESSAY: A Fine Madness  (Dr. Joseph Collins, NY Times Book Review)
    -ESSAY: James Joyce's comic messiah  (Robert Alter, American Scholar)
    -ESSAY:  James Joyce's Zurich  (PAUL HOFMANN, NY Times Book Review)
    -ESSAY: Whose Life Is This, Anyway?  (James Atlas, NY Times Book Review)
    -ESSAY: A Not-So-Lit'rary Bloomsday (FRANCIS X. CLINES, NY Times)
    -ESSAY: Virtually A-Wake (Robert Sullivan, NY Times)
    -ESSAY : "Finnegans Wake" breakdown :  A team of valiant friends tackles James Joyce's famously unreadable opus -- and one winds up in family court because of it (Susan G. Hauser, Salon)
    -REVIEWS: New York Review of Books Archive
    Finnegans Wake by James Joyce - in lieu of review (The Guardian, May 12 1939)
-REVIEW: John Banville: The Motherless Child, NY Review of Books
        James Joyce by Edna O'Brien
    -REVIEW: of JAMES JOYCE By Edna O'Brien (Robert Sullivan, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of   `Reading Alcoholisms: Theorizing Character and Narrative in Selected Novels of Thomas Hardy, James Joyce, and Virginia Woolf,' by Jane Lilienfeld. (Shelley Cox, Library Journal)
    -REVIEW: Richard Ellmann: The Big Word in 'Ulysses', NY Review of Books
        Ulysses: A Critical and Synoptic Edition by James Joyce
    -REVIEW: Robert M. Adams: Yes, NY Review of Books
        Nora: The Real Life of Molly Bloom by Brenda Maddox
    -REVIEW: Robert M. Adams: Scrabbling in the 'Wake', NY Review of Books
        Shakespeare and Joyce: A Study of Finnegans Wake by Vincent John Cheng
    -REVIEW: Michael Wood: Joyce's Influenza, NY Review of Books
       James Joyce in Padua edited by Louis Berrone
        Afterjoyce: Studies in Fiction After Ulysses by Robert Martin Adams
        "In the wake of the Wake" edited by Elliott Anderson and David Hayman
        The Consciousness of Joyce by Richard Ellmann
    -REVIEW: Stuart Hampshire: Joyce and Vico: The Middle Way, NY Review of Books
        The Exile of James Joyce by Hélène Cixous and translated by Sally A.J. Purcell
        Ulysses on the Liffey by Richard Ellmann
        Closing Time by Norman O. Brown
    -REVIEW: Matthew Hodgart: Portrait of the Artist as a Middle-Aged Adulterer, NY Review of Books
        Giacomo Joyce by James Joyce and with an Introduction and Notes by Richard Ellmann

    -REVIEW: Denis Donoghue: Huston's Joyce, NY Review of Books
        The Dead a film directed by John Huston and based on the story by James Joyce
    -REVIEW:  Richard Ellmann: Bloomovie, NY Review of Books
        Ulysses produced by Walter Reade and directed by Joseph Strick

    -REVIEW: Robert M. Adams: Mulligan Stew, NY Review of Books
        A Colder Eye: The Modern Irish Writers by Hugh Kenner