Finnegans wake

by James Joyce

Hardcover, 1958

Status

Available

Genres

Publication

New York : Viking Press, 1958.

Description

James Joyce takes the cyclical pattern of fall and resurrection as his theme in this, one of the seminal works of the 20th century.

Media reviews

Tuttolibri, La Stampa
E' formidabile! Ma chi lo legge?

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 Veneto di Flaiano, primi Anni Cinquanta, due giovani giornalisti, uno calabrese uno toscano, fingevano di conoscere La recherche, e di averla trovata noiosa. «Si ripete...» dicevano. A un tavolo vicino il critico teatrale Sandro De Feo, un proustiano doc, drizzò le orecchie. «Non sapete di cosa state parlando» si inserì. E cominciò a fare loro domande. «Vediamo un po’, come si chiama la duchessa de Guermantes?», «Chi è la zia del baron de Charlus?». I due farfugliarono, si impappinarono. Alla fine il toscano, che era il più sincero, confessò: «O Sandro... ’un s’ebbe tempo!»

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.

User reviews

LibraryThing member absurdeist
Forgive me, Father Joyce, for I have sinned. In April '08, I gave Finnegan's Wake a rating of half a star. I mocked Finnegan's Wake mercilessly, and did so publicly too, parodying it right here in LibraryThing, like it were Sarah Palin, and it was justly and judiciously and promptly blue flagged as "not a review".

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.
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LibraryThing member Widsith
A sort of triumph, a sort of failure.

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 from going through some of the passages here. A sentence can be read in as much detail as some entire books. You can reread the whole thing and it'll be completely different. Some bits are very funny, some are very sexy, many parts are jaw-droppingly beautiful, all of it is completely insane.

It drives me crazy. I think I love it.
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LibraryThing member Ganeshaka
"Polthergeistkotzondherhoploits! Kick? What mother? Whose porter? Which pair? Why namely coon?"

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 poltergeists for that matter...well, why namely coon?" Ah but there's only one Terry Gross, and she's busy with Bette Midler, and Michael K. Williams, and the like, and the living. And Mr Joyce is deceased, desisted, and done damn dead. So solly, no wakee wake.

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.

Or not.

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.
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LibraryThing member DonnaMarieMerritt
Brilliant wordplay, irony, satire, alliteration, rhyme, assonance, consonance, nonce, spoonerisms, and so on…but I have absolutely no idea what it was about.
LibraryThing member wirkman
This book is almost impossible to rate by one standard, one "metric" as they like to say in business, these days. Why? Because it is an utter failure as a novel, but a complete success as the world's longest nonsense prose poem.

Yes, it is quite funny. In places. The sense behind the apparent nonsense is for scholars, mostly. I've no interest in deciphering a novel, and so I regard it as a failure. But there are passage of amazing hilarity. And the whole effect, if read in one long sitting, is akin to taking drugs.

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."
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LibraryThing member JimElkins
Why Finnegans Wake's Jokes Aren't Funny

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.

"So then I read Joyce,” Joachim told me, "not Ulysses, for heaven’s sake, but Finnegans Wake, I read that book all day most days for months, and then some days most months for years. I covered each page in notes, I read his letters, I bought books and books about the book, I read introductions, summaries, annotations, concordances, and indices, I read the pages he translated into French and Italian, I read his first scribbled ideas, really you can’t read them, but I read them, they are just pages of words, like ‘floods reveal,’ ‘why bridge things,’ ‘winding roads,’ ‘swollen stream,’ ‘spudfed pigs,’ ‘angel in the house,’ ‘thought himself sick,’ ‘doubtful points,’ ‘a dark spirit came in,’ ‘what answer did you get,’ ‘dear little girl in Boston, you fill a big hole in my heart,’ ‘amber route,’ ‘lying spirit in heaven / spirit lying in heaven,’ ‘pyjamas redden the bed,’ ‘deafness from a damp pillow,’ ‘not even churches are sacred,’ ‘glegg,’ ‘mental nerve,’ ‘gossipaceous,’ ‘inkpot upset foretold,’ ‘gloompourers,’ ‘wail of wind,’ ‘drip of noise,’ ‘better betray with pleasure,’ ‘scowl,’ ‘maniac,’ ‘semi demented,’ ‘deadened walls,’ ‘inspissated obscurities,’ ‘longueurs,’ ‘border on insane,’ ‘dark clouds and mud,’ ‘mouthless streams,’ ‘vertical rivers,’ ‘melodious cave,’ ‘where he ended his life.’ I read his drafts and typescripts, I read the Buffalo notebooks, those are notes he made when he was nearly blind, they look like they were written by a bear with a crayon. I read his proofs and galleys, I looked up every single one of his thousands of made-up words, ‘ournhisn,’ ‘dororrhea,’ ‘hogpew,’ ‘sossad,’ ‘henayearn,’ ‘pappap poppopcuddle,’ ‘commonknounest,’ ‘speleostoical,’ ‘inflorflorence,’ ‘megageg,’ ‘soswhitchoverswetch,’ ‘conflingent,’ ‘antiproresurrectionism,’ ‘dumpsydiddle,’ ‘ragingoo,’ ‘bombossities,’ I studied every single one of those invented words, they’re are supposed to be jokes, or not exactly jokes, but more like little chuckles, or delights, or just amusements, although many of them are puzzles, and in general they are meant to be entertainments, they are supposed to be brief moments of levity, or no, not levity, that’s an old-fashioned word, they are wee delights or mischievous pleasantries or drolleries or bonbons or whatever, you can tell he thought his invented words are infused with infectious glee. I did not laugh even once. That book has everything I am afraid of. It is written for no one, Samuel, because no one can ever sit back, after months and years reading and studying and annotating, after years and months struggling through the swarms of squeaking scholars, no one can ever sit back, close the back cover with a satisfying snap, and say, Okay, I get that. Finnegans Wake is everything I fear, it is an enormous mistake the size of an entire country, the size of a third of Joyce’s life. The book is only six hundred pages, that is half of Burton or a sixth of Proust, but it took Joyce seventeen years to write. It would be as if I had stopped writing when I got to page six hundred, and then gone back to the beginning and put the pages into a typewriter and typed over them, and did that over and again for seventeen years, until I had six hundred pages of thick black text with only a few legible words surviving among the language detritus and throngs of palimpsestic puns. The first drafts the Finnegans Wake are easy enough to read. They are as clear as you would expect from any ill-mannered modernist writer. But Joyce kept going back, pestering his sentences, scratching and pecking at them, inserting Danish words, Irish words, Serbo-Croatian words, medieval Latin words, pulling apart perfectly good lines and inserting the names of Babylonian gods, Siberian rivers, or Byzantine patriarchs, returning again and again, like a hyena at a carcass, it pulls off a strip of gristle and lopes off, but in a minute it’s back, slobbering for one more scrap. He asphyxiated his English with x’s and q’s from Basque, Albanian, and Chinese, he tied his own writing in knots, he twisted it hard by the wrists, and they were his own wrists he was twisting, I mean he wrote the book to begin with, and then he teased and tortured it, he crushed words into each other, he muddled, muddied, and meddled until his story was gasping for breath, until there was no air or light left in it and it was nearly extinct. The lines are beautiful, I admit that, but so is an old loaf of bread with a flower of bright pink mould, it’s not edible, it’s just not edible. ‘For we, we have taken our sheet upon her stones where we have hanged our hearts in her trees; and we list, as she bibs us, by the waters of babalong,’ I love that, I admit it, but it is primped. He patted poked and fiddled with his book, he rubbed and fondled it, he spat and polished it until it was coated in language bacteria. There is a character in the book, Shem, he’s a writer. He writes all the time, and he never finishes, just like Joyce. When Shem writes it’s like Joyce writing his book. There’s a page where Shem is sitting in his squalid apartment and he runs out of paper and ink. He shits into his hands, puts the shit in a bowl, pisses into the bowl, mixes up a black concoction, bakes it, dries it, and uses it as ink. He writes all over his own body, turning himself black, writing and writing until he records all of human history, just like the book Finnegans Wake. It is a soiled and blackened book, supposedly comic but actually not funny at all.”
“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.”
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LibraryThing member RickHarsch
The hearse awheeze but the chap is swilling.
LibraryThing member Linus_Linus
Have managed to read it once, understood parts of it but more importantly have realised how hopelessly unqualified I am to even pass a proper comment. Some day.
LibraryThing member jarvenpa
It really, really helps if you can read bits of this aloud, and if you don't fuss too much about understanding everything absolutely. If you can find a recording of Joyce reading...it helps even more. This is a book to submerge yourself within. Don't fret about it the first time through.
LibraryThing member skholiast
The best way to read this otherwise too-scary-by-reputation book is to let your eye rove over the page, murmuring or declaring out loud as you are moved. I recommend reading it just before bed, and until you fall asleep. Not only is it helpful for this, but unless my own experience is aberrant you will find yourself dreaming in stereophonic etymology.… (more)
LibraryThing member antao
"We'll meet again, we'll part once more. The spot I'll seek if the hour you'll find. My chart shines high where the blue milk's upset."

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 Joyce as a product of his 'modernist' era, certainly, but a sincere one. He was reaching for something, a kind of synthesis of prose and poetry that came close to the true language of the mind. It's remarkable how much of Finnegans Wake is comprehensible, in spite of the fact that Joyce's words don't actually exist; we know what he means, or we can guess at it, which would be impossible if it was just gibberish. The question is whether it's worth the trouble. So much of what goes on in our minds is just noise, and really, who wants to read a transcription of mental static, no matter how impressive the act of having transcribed it? I've never finished Finnegans Wake, and I'm not sure whether that's my issue or Joyce's. To paraphrase Rossini talking about Wagner, Joyce's writing has some wonderful moments but some terrible quarter-hours! I got the idea that I was missing things, and hallucinating things of my own accord; I found it not very fruitful. Can't remember it that well, either, much like some of my own teenage years, then...On a sentence level is makes little sense - or if it does, thought it's so angular. On a wider level, structurally, it's like “The Divine Comedy” - Joyce created his own mythological cosmos - and typically for him he based it on a normal family. Or it reminds me of Ovid and his “Metamorphosis” or Blake's prophetic poems... it's that kind of work.

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.
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LibraryThing member shabacus
I'd love to say it's unreadable, but that would only mean that I couldn't read it. I'd like to say it's worthless, but that would only mean that I find no worth in it. There are many who have found it very worthwhile, who have painstakingly read and devoured its many secrets, following each clue, reading each scholarly commentary on each line, and experienced the joy of unraveling a tiny piece of the great puzzle Joyce left behind.

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.
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LibraryThing member tungsten_peerts
My first experience with FW was in undergraduate school, when as a pretentious putz I used to carry it around so I would look impressive. It didn't work. :^)

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 towards oblivion as I hand it over to whatever vulture is sitting there.

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.
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LibraryThing member Porius
robert anton wilson has much to say about FW. his COINCIDAnce has some fine sections on joyce's nite-mare book. the going gets a little thick, but if you haven't the patience, neither author is for you.
LibraryThing member lilinah
Mind-bending literature, this book is not the easy read that Ulysses is. Rather is needs to be read aloud, rolled on the tongue, and savored, like a fine whiskey. Then studied assiduously, phrase by phrase for the multi-layers of meaning, since it packs in life experiences of the author, Irish popular culture of the turn of the 20th century, Catholicism Irish mythology, Irish paganism, and Irish history, plus an extraordinary love and knowledge of languages - English, Irish Gaelic, Latin, and more… (more)
LibraryThing member tripleblessings
Difficult to read, as are other Joyce works, between the stream of consciousness word associations and the irish dialect and slang. But if you go with the flow and persevere, it's a poetical delight, a unique way of looking at people and at the Irish poor in the early 20th century.
LibraryThing member agricolaoval
Interesting project. The text imitates the incessant chatter of voices in the back of our minds with their own weird logic and syntax. This is something we are all familiar with, but writing a huge book where these voices are allowed to have their say more or less at the same time really is something. The book is a cult thing and clearly a bit hyped by academics, but it's rewarding in a number of ways. Joyce has an extraordinary mastery of the meanings of words, and his way of slightly tweaking ordinary words to give them a whole new and often sinister meaning is astonishing. I really like the robust humor of the work and the occasional intense poetry of the shadowy things that are going on. This being said Finnegans Wake is not really good reading. I have never attempted to read the whole book. My shallow mind cannot quite fathom the depth of the old dude's project, and I quite honestly couldn't care less. I guess it's now kind of resting in the soil along with the guy anyway. But this is a book that I never will chuck though. I keep it on my coffee table and read a few pages now and again and just enjoy the surge of images that it never fails to evoke. To me this is a criterion of all great art. Some people say that the books of antiquity were meant to be read aloud, which may or may not be true. But anyway Joyce has done so with Finnegans Wake. It actually has to be read aloud or as much aloud as I can read it without having things thrown at me by exasperated members of my family. And when I do the text reveals its true nature as beautiful and melodious poetry. The book is a big and cumbersome object, but it creates a host of images and assosiations and thoughts and dreams that clearly has nothing to do with Joyce, but that rather are unforseen results of the contact beween my whole personal history and his obscure mastodont.… (more)
LibraryThing member RoseCityReader
A work of mad genius. Who am I to criticize? It took Joyce 17 years to write it and it contains the history of the world. It seemed to take me as long to read it and I comprehended only a few atoms of Joyce's world.

It is a book like no other. In Joyce’s own words, “Suck it yourself – Sugarstick!”
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LibraryThing member BeaverMeyer
This is a book that dummies bring on the bus and pretend to read so other people will think their smart. No one's ever read it cover to cover, yet people will say they have because there's no way to prove them wrong. There's no plot and most of the words are hybrids. Someone who's read the back cover or read a review on Amazon can tell you just as much about this as anyone who's ever tried to read it though. Life's too short to waste your time on books like this.… (more)
LibraryThing member aethercowboy
Considered unreadable by many, Finnegans Wake takes us on a journey through a dreamland along a stream of consciousness. With such diverse characters who are at times unique, but at other times, the same person, Joyce gives the reader a challenge, what with most phrases having a double (and sometimes triple) meaning. You'd have a read it a few times before even being able to pick up on some of the gems hidden in this prose.

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.
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LibraryThing member ateolf
i went into this book wanting to like it...i liked Ulysses a lot...i liked many of the things i'd read bout this book...the whole dream-language thing seemed pretty nifty...i wasn't expecting it to make any sense...William S. Burroughs is one of my favorite writes and much of his work doesn't make any sense...i wasn't reading it looking for a traditional plot...but i there was nothing good about this book on any other level that i could find...i got nothing out of it on either an intellectual, aesthetic, or visceral level...after reading a sentence or whatever i was just left with nothing...i retained no impression whatsoever of what i had just read...a lot of talk is put into this book's use of the sounds and rhythm of the words for their own sake...that can be fine, but i did not find them enjoyable even on this level...most of the book just sounded goofy and stupid (and i'm far from one to think books should be completely serious, i'm just saying i thought the book SOUNDED bad...) Samuel Beckett said of it "[His words] are alive. They elbow their way on to the page, and glow and blaze and fade and disappear." i have to disagree with him here...the words were never able to fade and disappear because they never made it to me in the first place...i found the words buried beneath the page if anything...my eyes moved over the page and nothing would happen...if i did try to pull the words out nothing would happen...i'm sure there a whole ton of stuff that's just over my head...but what little i did get was just uninteresting, unfunny puns...if i made the effort to spend my life studying all the things i would need to know to "understand" half of this book so i could catch more bad, intellectual puns, it just wouldn't be worth it...and one other note: early on i found the book somewhat makes "sense" when read in the voice of Alfred E. Neuman (that Mad magazine dude) from that episode of The Simpsons...this of course is also pretty annoying to keep up with for a page much less 628 pages...sometimes i'd just try out any goofy, bombastic voice in my head, and while it felt fitting it was also annoying and didn't actually add anything to the book except maybe some brief, personal amusement, however minor...… (more)
LibraryThing member chichikov
"Which that that rang ripprippripplying.
-- 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… (more)
LibraryThing member Duncan_Jones
A book to swim in and to read aloud in the bath. There are some good jokes; a fair bit of bawdy. It comes out of the mud of sleep. If you read it in the hope of setting down the meaning of it in a box in your skull you may as well not begin.
LibraryThing member AndAllThat
Apparently Joyce learned Yiddish, Aramaic and Hebrew source material before presenting his view in vernacular.
LibraryThing member SeriousGrace
Confessional: I was doomed right from the start. I have been calling this book Finnegan's Wake. That should tell you something...when I can't even get the title right. I have read a lot of reviews of Finnegans Wake. Lots of advice on how to even read the thing. When you have more reviews suggesting how to read a book rather than what the book was actually about, that should tell you something. In all honesty, I have no clue what it was about. But, I'm not alone. Tons of other people have been scratching their heads, too. But, that's not to say they aren't without advice: I tried reading it aloud, as many suggested. I tried not taking it seriously, as others promised would help. I tried drinking with each chapter and even that didn't make the going any easier. It's much like the lyrics to Phish. I don't understand a jiboo so I don't care for the song. End of story.… (more)

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