A daring work of experimental, Modernist genius, James Joyce's Finnegans Wake is one of the greatest literary achievements of the twentieth century, and the crowning glory of Joyce's life. The Penguin Modern Classics edition of includes an introduction by Seamus Deane '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' Joyce's final work, Finnegan's Wake is his masterpiece of the night as Ulysses is of the day. Supreme linguistic virtuosity conjures up the dark underground worlds of sexuality and dream. Joyce undermines traditional storytelling and all official forms of English and confronts the different kinds of betrayal - cultural, political and sexual - that he saw at the heart of Irish history. Dazzlingly inventive, with passages of great lyrical beauty and humour, Finnegans Wakeremains one of the most remarkable works of the twentieth century. James Joyce (1882-1941), the eldest of ten children, was born in Dublin, but exiled himself to Paris at twenty as a rebellion against his upbringing. He only returned to Ireland briefly from the continent but Dublin was at heart of his greatest works, Ulyssesand Finnegans Wake. He lived in poverty until the last ten years of his life and was plagued by near blindness and the grief of his daughter's mental illness. If you enjoyed Finnegans Wake, you might like Virginia Woolf's The Waves, also available in Penguin Classics. 'An extraordinary performance, a transcription into a miniaturized form of the whole western literary tradition' Seamus Deane
Esce negli Oscar l'opera più ardua
di Joyce: un'impresa insormontabile sviscerarlo e tradurlo, esempio massimo di capolavori tanto citati quanto sconosciuti
Esistono grandi libri illeggibili, e grandi libri non molto letti. Una sera da Rosati, nella via
Be’, non tutti hanno letto Proust, ma oggi non esiste lettore acculturato che non abbia perlomeno gli strumenti onde fingere convincentemente di averlo fatto. Lo stesso si può dire per il più famoso libro di James Joyce, altro pilastro del rinnovo del romanzo nel Novecento. Quando Ulisse uscì con enorme risonanza fu anche un successo di scandalo, e la sua pubblicazione negli Stati Uniti (se è per questo, anche nell’Irlanda patria dell’autore) fu severamente proibita. Molti intellettuali protestarono, e in prima fila si distinse il giovane ma già celebre Hemingway, che ne importò personalmente di contrabbando e diffuse molte copie. Peccato che la sua, ritrovata dopo la morte, fosse rimasta intonsa tranne le prime poche pagine.
Anche Ulisse può essere una lettura ardua, e forse la maggior parte degli acquirenti del romanzo si arrende durante il percorso, salvo saltare al fatidico finale col monologo di Molly Bloom. Diverso il discorso per Finnegans Wake, alla stesura del quale Joyce dedicò sedici anni, dichiarando che sarebbe stata l’ultima impresa della sua vita artistica. Rispetto ai pur ardui libri appena citati - Ulisse per la tortuosità, la Recherche per la mole - Finnegans Wake presenta l’ostacolo ulteriore e pressoché insormontabile della lingua in cui fu scritto, lingua che pur partendo dall’inglese, sia pure con accento irlandese, è poi un impasto di neologismi inventati da Joyce attingendo sia alla sua insaziabilità di autodidatta, sia al suo talento di poliglotta. Joyce sapeva infatti moltissime lingue. Prima dei vent’anni, per esempio, si era studiato da solo il norvegese allo scopo di comprendere meglio Ibsen, e in quella lingua aveva scritto una lettera ammirata al grande drammaturgo, il quale gli aveva risposto scambiandolo per un vecchio accademico. Nella Trieste asburgica si era trovato a contatto con un crogiolo di etnie dal quale aveva appreso una moltitudine di idiomi.
Ora, esistono in letteratura libri scritti in lingue segrete, o addirittura inventate. Al tempo in cui nell’Iran regnava lo scià e si promuovevano festival internazionali, il poeta Ted Hughes scrisse per Peter Brook un testo intitolato Orghast da rappresentare sulle rovine di Persepoli, appunto in una lingua fatta solo di sonorità; il pubblico doveva capire l’azione come quando si va a teatro all’estero, riconoscendo i significati dalla musicalità dei fonemi. Non veniva fornita, né esisteva, una spiegazione.
Anche nella sua operazione matta e disperatissima Joyce vuole che il lettore capisca; ma a costo di risalire all’origine di tutte le sue invenzioni, parola per parola. Il primo a corredare di chiose puntuali anche se non esaurienti quello che veniva scrivendo, fu proprio lui. Dante - mettiamo - espone il suo sistema - la sua cultura, la sua cosmologia, la sua religione - per così dire, li porge. Va verso il lettore. Joyce fa il contrario. Il lettore deve andare da lui, e sviscerare quanto lui gli fa solo balenare.
Intendiamoci, la sua creazione non si esaurisce nella lingua. Nell’introduzione al primo volume della traduzione di Luigi Schenoni, uscito nell’ormai lontano 1982, Giorgio Melchiori sintetizzò mirabilmente le pazienti esplorazioni di molti esegeti, mostrando la complicata eppur limpida simmetria che organizza gli innumerevoli episodi della vicenda (questa di per sé sarebbe semplice, la notte e i sogni del protagonista H.C.Earwicker), con un fittissimo tessuto di simboli e allusioni e richiami.
Pesante come svago, poco utile come oggetto di studio (quale allievo è in grado di leggerlo, quale docente di spiegarlo adeguatamente?), Finnegans Wake ha tuttavia sempre trovato appassionati che non si sono stancati di interrogarlo. Tra questi in Italia spicca Luigi Schenoni, venuto purtroppo a mancare senza terminare l’eroica fatica di tradurlo, oggi giunta a un quarto volume. Ma non di tradurlo in una lingua «normale», così da consentire di leggerlo come con una versione interlineare. Schenoni ha voluto riprodurre per il lettore italiano l’effetto che Finnegans Wake produce sul lettore anglofono. Lì l’inglese, come si diceva sopra, è la base, ma ci sono richiami ad altre lingue (ne sono state individuate 47), più innumerevoli parole composte, come la sempre citata «meanderthale», dove convivono i significati di meandro più «tale», storia - storia-labirinto - ma anche di Neandertal, con richiamo alle origini della lingua stessa. Schenoni dunque reinventa, sulla traccia dell’originale, arrivando a frasi come «Halloggio di chiamata è tutto il loro evenpane, sebbene la sua cartomanza abbia un’hallucinazione come un’erezione di notte...», che poi spiega in un corpo di note lungo il triplo del testo stesso. Come Joyce, non pensa tanto al fruitore, quanto a cimentarsi con la propria ossessione. Joyce ha eretto un monumento all’impossibilità di procedere oltre nella strada del romanzo, costruendo un romanzo totale e definitivo, in cui tutto lo scibile e la stessa favella sono rielaborati come in una nuova Babele di unione anziché di disgregazione. Condividendo la sua orgogliosa solitudine, Schenoni la fa sentire meno arrogante e più umana.
I summarily dismissed Finnegan's Wake before I'd -- shame upon shame -- even finished it!; before I'd properly researched its construction. One can't after all, properly appreciate how well Finnegan's mansion stands until one gets their hands dirty and gets hammerin' and demo'ing out some drywall and negatively biased presuppositions upstairs can they? Because once inside the Finnegan facade, one can then (and only then) inspect its foundations, supports, framework, wiring, and so forth -- its fundamental skeletal linguistic innards (how is it built along the subjective continuum ranging from random eccentricity to code?) -- and once such a thorough inspection has been completed, then the critic (maybe, maybe not) has earned the right to condemn (or not condemn) the Finnegan premises.
Sounds complicated, because it is! Finnegan's Wake takes time and sweat, and makes the extreme difficulty of reading its universally revered predecessor, Ulysses seem like Dick & Jane in comparison. Serious. Opinions vary, but what good was my opinion when I'd not so much as removed a tack from Finnegan's thick accented colloquial walls? My opinion meant nil, that's what.
I opined so then because I was erroneously convinced that demo'ing FW, deconstructing it page by page if not phrase by phrase, would reveal nothing intelligible underneath; it would be an unrewarding chore, a bore at best, menial labor, idioms, madness, semantics, certainly nothing fun like Extreme Makeover Home Edition. But now that I've been humbled before The Master, and gotten some good help through reading and re-reading Richard Ellmann's excellent biography (among others), I know better, and am thus recanting my formerly disreputable, incendiary anti-Finnegan's Wake review. Mea culpa, James, mea culpa!
For now I realize the dead wrongedness in outright rejecting what I believed at the time was this ridiculous notion that there existed depth and breadth and infinitude beneath Finnegan's seemingly meaningless garbled surface. Forgive, Father Joyce, what were the uninititated, snap-judgment-eyes of an impatient, petulant, apostate amateur too arrogant to take the time to cipher your idiosyncratic style, wit, and prose.
I want you to know also, Father Joyce, how deeply heartfelt sorry I am for slamming you personally (and your protege, Brother Beckett, too) in that previously terrible, reprehensible review of FW I regrettably wrote on a whim, disrespectfully, inappropriately, desiring only by its quick composition cheap laughs! If anyone had gone temporarily mad at the time, Father Joyce, it was certainly me, and not you nor Brother Beckett. Please know that I've taken the appropriate steps of full confession and sackcloth-and-ashes repentance (and I hope other unrepentant Waker-Haters out there will soon follow suit), in order to right this inexcusably blasphemous and heinous wrong.
Goodbye for now, Father Joyce. Warmest regards to you and your Fellow Deceased Iconic Brethren. Say hi to Brother Flann for me, and Homer, all the Greats. And take good care of Brother Updike will ya? He might be disoriented a bit having just arrived, and need a generous Irish soul like yours to show him 'round.
Take care, you're very magnanimous. I'll be reading you again soon.
Choirs of inquiring minds want to know. Oh where o-weird is our friendly NPR interviewer, asking "Now Mr. Joyce could you explain, for those of our listeners who may not be familiar with "herhoploits", or
Does it really matter? That you reap some linear harvest from Joyce's scattered grain. What are you, a peasant girl, a lass with a scythe? Sigh! Just dive in, like into a pile of leaves, and roll around. Smell the Autumn. get witchy, poke your variouss elves in the eyes with a sharp schtick.
This is a multipurpose book. Pick any word. Use it to name a band, a coffee stand, a keety-keety, your next child. Program your favorite lines into a Furby, and converse with it while you're doing the dishes. Read it aloud with children of different ages to see how they react. Memorize a few choice lines for use in awkward moments like at the office water cooler, or when you're being mugged, or fart in an elevator. Use it to "improve" your spelling - why let phat rapmac daddios kick sand in your schnizzle? Put the puff back in your fizzle.
Now if you're a poet...CAVEAT...seen a cat on catnip? Be prepared to read and react foolishly. Chasing chimeras shimmying like Kate. You WILL be influenced.as in "in flew Enza". Sickabed with jalousie, spewing your freshlygreen 'snot poetry. How humiliating, like first love.
Riverrun...I don't think so? Dam it? Like a bewildered Randy Jackson, you shake your head, look at Mr. Joyce, breathless on the stage, and say "Dude, I dunno, it was a bit pitchy and that was very very big song for you? What were you thinking?" Go ahead, be that way. We Paula Abduls are legion. In Flounderer's field, our poppies grow. We shall not sleep, but finally wake again.
It's impossible to rate, really, but it's not remotely like anything else in English literature so in that way it's certainly impressive.
On one hand it's outrageously pretentious. But even if you want to hate it, there's no denying you can get enormous enjoyment
It drives me crazy. I think I love it.
Yes, it is quite funny. In places. The sense behind the apparent
In fact, who needs hallucinogenics as long as there's a copy of this book around?
One of my stranger endeavors was to hold a weekly reading of this book. Between a half dozen and a dozen of my friends sat around in a circle in my living room, and would read aloud. Pass the wine, pass the chips. Jesse Walker read one section in the voice of W.C. Fields.
So, take my advice: Whenever the party gets dull, pass out "Finnegans Wake."
This is an unusual review. It is an excerpt from a novel I'm working on. One character, Joachim, is telling another, Samuel, about Joyce's book. The opening lines describe my own engagement with the book, which has gone on now for nearly thirty years.
“No, not especially funny.”
“So,” Joachim continued, “I spent several years reading, and I learned that the world’s longest and most complicated books are also the most nearly hopeless books. That is what I discovered. They are the most despairing, the most nearly insane, they are the closest to insanity. Joyce knew his book was written in shit, it was spoiled and getting worse and yet he kept going for seventeen years, plugging up the last beams of light, making it deliciously fetid. He knew what it means to labor by yourself, over the same manuscript, as your eyes get worse and your daughter’s insanity deepens and your reviews stay bad and your life spills out. He describes the reek of Shem’s apartment, stains on the floor and walls, bowl of shit ink, heaps of dirty underwear, discolored curtains, dried ejaculations, dregs of wine, gleet, that’s an unbelievable word to find in a book like Finnegans Wake, but there it is. Supposedly Shem is working on a letter, but really of course he is writing the book Finnegans Wake. Joyce says Shem explains things with a meticulousness that borders on the insane, just like Joyce, he never grasps the beauty of restraint, neither does Joyce, the balance of his mind was disturbed, well obviously, he hides in his book like a field mouse in a nest of colored ribbons, a sweet idea, he has immovable doubts about the sense of the whole, how could he not, or the sense of the strange words that run, wander, march, halt, walk, or stumble along the barriers of the lines, those too, he must have doubted each and every one and also all of them at once. Shem calls his writing a flood, a jungle, a relic, a ruin, a scrape, a crust, a heap of steaming refuse, a thicket, an avalanche. He looks at his book as a stranger and wonders who wrote it. That is not just a sentence to me, Samuel, I understand what it means. No one can have an experiences like that and be happy. If anyone laughs at something in Finnegans Wake they are forgetting why its author needed so desperately to laugh, how he needed hundreds and endless thousands of those little laughs, how each laugh was like a drowning man gulping another lungful of seawater. The book is everything I am afraid of, it is the diary of a man who becomes compost.”
“Thanks, I’ll skip it.”
I am not one of those people, and have come to realize that I never will be.
Most authors enter into a contract of sorts with their readers, unspoken yet nearly always there. "I will meet you halfway," says the author. "I will spend effort to communicate to you, and you will spend effort to understand that which I have communicated." Because after all, it is the arrogance of authorship to assume that anyone will ever want to expend that effort simply to understand what you have to impart. (And yes, I'm fully aware that this applies equally well to this review!) When the message is of high value, or the language that communicates it of surpassing beauty, the author can require more of the reader, because the reader will want to expend more effort.
And therein lies my dislike of Finnegan's Wake. Of Joyce in generally, actually, but most sharply of Finnegan's Wake. So far from expending effort to communicate, Joyce has expended hideous force to cloak his meaning, to bury it under layers of twisted, tortured prose. If I thought that what lay within were important, or that the journey itself was an attractive one, perhaps I would supply the effort to dig it up. But I don't. To me, it stands for everything that is wrong with literary fiction--or rather, it is an unwelcome stain on literary fiction that ought to be removed.
But that's just me. Your mileage may vary.
In “Finnegans Wake” by James Joyce
Joyce could really write. “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” is exquisite, and “Ulysses” is a masterpiece. I see
I agree that bits of it are sublime, but in my experience it takes real determination to get to them. It was the act of a very large ego to write something that assumed people would take the time to wallow in someone else's unconscious over an extended period. I think that life is short, the world full of difficult books and you need to be selective. I think I'd rather re-read “Middlemarch” or “Odysseus”; they're more comprehensible and I feel better reading them than I do with the Wake.
Ulysses certainly changed the English Language but "Finnegans Wake" didn't. A waste of time, a beautiful waste of time; it’s a case of Causabon's Key To All Mythologies with Guinness and Opera.
It's now my favorite book (well, of "fiction" anyway) evar. My plan is to have this be the last book I own on my "deathbed": I will sink
Like many others here, I went through an "oh, you need to read it aloud!" epiphany with this book: in my case, I handed the book to my mother, who proceeded to read from it and to my astonishment render it with stunning clarity (can't remember what passage it might have been).
I can't say enough things about this wonderful wonderful creation. So I won't start.
It is a book like no other. In Joyce’s own words, “Suck it yourself –
This book is not recommended for the casual reader, and even more lightweight avid readers may want to bring a map along for the ride (there are many critical/guide books on FW, find the one that works the best for you). Nevertheless, it's a challenging yet fulfilling read for anyone who wants to read one of the most difficult books in the English language.
-- Bulbul, bulbulone!I will shally. Thou shalt willy. You wouldnt should as youd remesmer. I hypnot. 'Tis golder sickle's hour. Holy moon priestess, we'd love our grappes of mistellose! Moths the matter? Tabarins comes. To fell our fairest. . . . . " p. 360