Friday, October 31, What's a Wakepedia? Since Joyce's stated intent was "a history of the world" we should expect an encyclopedia's worth of allusions to most all the major events of that history, but reflecting Joyce's idiosyncratic analysis of which events were most important to him. Most especially, Irish history gets a singular emphasis, with all other events measured against their Irish echoes. Using Fweet, it's now practical to pick any topic, search for all allusions, and compose a brief overview of that topic through Joyce's Wakean eyes, illustrated with his quotes currently following Fweet in using the standard pagination, with most pagenumbers linked to the Fweet page. So this Annotated-FW edition will progress in two parallel streams: line-by-line but also major-topic by major-topic.
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Tindall taught at Columbia University for 40 years, and he began lecturing on Joyce back in the s when Ulysses was still banned in the United States. For many years he taught a seminar course on Finnegans Wake at Columbia, and, as this guide makes clear, he both instructed and learned from his students. Like Campbell, Tindall will walk you chapter-by-chapter through the book—and do so with a clarity, honesty and good humor that other scholars might do well to emulate.
He will make clear the distinction between what he knows about the book, and what he merely suspects. If he encounters a passage that mystifies him, he will admit it. His accounts of each chapter are not synopses, such as Campbell offers, but are astute commentaries, filled with facts, hints, ideas and conjectures. Of all the Joyceans, he is the one who comes closest to matching Joyce pun for pun, joke for joke, and in a field that is littered with dense, foreboding academic jargon, Tindall achieved the almost impossible: writing a sprightly, readable guide to the most difficult work in the English language.
I never met him or went to the classes where he demonstrated his arcane knowledge of Finnegans Wake , but word- of-mouth accounts of his expertise spread through campus intellectual circles, and caught the attention of people who cared about such matters. When I picked up this book years later and saw all the names of Stanford professors in the acknowledge- ments, the lightbulb went on. This must have been that dude.
And, truly, John Bishop has probed into the inner workings of Finnegans Wake as deeply as anyone not named James Joyce. His study, Joyce's Book of the Dark , will not take you gently through each chapter of Finnegans Wake , as do Campbell and Tindall, but it is unsurpassed at grasping the larger themes and significations of the text.
I do have my reservations about this book —it is filled with some of the most cumbersome sentences I've ever read in true Joycean fashion , and the repetitions sometimes seem like padding. It is too partisan, both in its advocacy of Bishop's agenda and its unwillingness to admit any criticisms of Joyce's work. But the astuteness of the author and the brilliance of his synthesis make this an essential book for those grappling with Finnegans Wake.
But Joyce put so much of his own life into his novels—and in ways that are so puzzling to outsiders who don't know the real-life details behind the fiction—that readers of his work really should consult a first-rate biography.
Fortunately for us, Richard Ellmann has written one of the best literary biographies of modern times, and his page work James Joyce first published in and revised in remains unsurpassed more than a half-century after its initial release.
Joyce's complex relationships with his father, mother, wife, daughter, and brother Stanislaus undergird the family dynamics of Finnegans Wake. Joseph Campbell: A Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake Published just five years after Joyce released Finnegans Wake to a befuddled public, Joseph Cambpell's 'skeleton key' served as the entry point that allowed the first generation of readers to come to grips with this daunting novel.
True, Campbell's interpretation has been superseded by later scholars, who differ with some of his views, and have supplemented others. I only wish someone would come up with a fully annotated version of The New Science , akin to the annotated guides to Joyce. Also check out the Finnegans Wake wiki on the web. You can find other relevant web links at the James Joyce in Cyberspace website.
Any list of the most boring books I have read in my lifetime will find The Egyptian Book of the Dead somewhere in the top five. But the plot of this apparently plotless ancient book is—as Joyce himself understood and planned —the blueprint for the plot of the apparently plotless novel Finnegans Wake. And may you come forth by day with your wrappings still in good working order. Joseph Campbell accused Wilder of stealing his story from Finnegans Wake —perhaps an unfair accusation and especially puzzling coming from Campbell, who made a significant borrowing from Joyce for his own bestselling The Hero with a Thousand Faces.
Here are your survival tools for Finnegans Wake. For your benefit, I've prioritized these, with the essential items at the top, and the optional items lower down on the list. Mark Z.
Annotated Finnegans Wake (with Wakepedia)
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Finnegans Wake – the book the web was invented for
Tindall taught at Columbia University for 40 years, and he began lecturing on Joyce back in the s when Ulysses was still banned in the United States. For many years he taught a seminar course on Finnegans Wake at Columbia, and, as this guide makes clear, he both instructed and learned from his students. Like Campbell, Tindall will walk you chapter-by-chapter through the book—and do so with a clarity, honesty and good humor that other scholars might do well to emulate. He will make clear the distinction between what he knows about the book, and what he merely suspects. If he encounters a passage that mystifies him, he will admit it.