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P u t t i n g   I t   I n t o   W o r d s  ~  Finnegans Wake

For a lifetime of reading pleasure and astonishment, pick up a copy of Finnegans Wake. A story by James Joyce that has no real beginning or end (it ends in the middle of a sentence and begins in the middle of the same sentence), Finnegans Wake, this "book of Doublends Jined," is as remarkable for its prose as for its circular structure. Written in a fantastic dream-language, forged from polyglot puns, complex symbolism, puns, and the use of portmanteau words, the Wake features some of Joyce's most hilarious and fascinating characters: the Irish barkeep Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker (HCE), Shem the Penman, Shaun the Postman, and Anna Livia Plurabelle (ALP).

Having done the longest day in literature with his monumental Ulysses (1922), James Joyce set himself an even greater challenge for his next book—the night. "A nocturnal state. . . . That is what I want to convey: what goes on in a dream, during a dream."

The work, which would exhaust two decades of his life and the odd resources of some sixty languages, culminated with the 1939 publication of Joyce's final and most revolutionary work, Finnegans Wake.

Sixty-five years after its publication, it remains, in Anthony Burgess's words, "a great comic vision, one of the few books of the world that can make us laugh aloud on nearly every page."

Joyce's masterpiece.... If aesthetic merit were ever again to center the canon Finnegans Wake would be as close as our chaos could come to the heights of Shakespeare and Dante." —Harold Bloom, in The Western Canon

In the words of Anthony Burgess: "The age between the wars comes to an end with Joyce's Finnegans Wake, in which the author's interest in the deeper regions of the human mind leads him to the kingdom of sleep. The book is a dream of world history and it is couched in a new language, a comic mixture of all the tongues of Europe. Fictional experimentation could not well go further. To many readers Finnegans Wake mirrored the European chaos to come, but others saw a secret blueprint for rebuilding a civilization that was on the brink of destroying itself. (Anthony Burgess, from One Man's Chorus)

NOTE: the above was paraphrased, in part, from the publisher's notes.

Below, you will find brief intros to each Wake posting.

If you'd like to share your own experiences with Finnegans Wake or respond to one of the postings already here, click here for the hows and whys of posting.

~ Brief Intros to Current Postings ~

Hatch-as-Hatch Can, or Joyceancubation by Barbara Quanbeck

While brooding over the "dimmed letter" (424) found in the "litterery bed" (422) of rubbish (which by "tomorrow's truth" becomes an infodump) heaped in Kate's1 "museyroom," (8) I became astutely "abcedminded" (18) that before "joshuan judges had given us numbers or Helviticus committed deuteronomy...and all the guenneses had met their exodus," (4) James Joyce pluckily addressed the question of which came first, the chicken or the egg. Read More . . .

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