Finnegans Wake

( 18 )

Overview

Having done the longest day in literature with his monumental Ulysses, James Joyce set himself even greater challenges 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 in the 1939 publication of Joyce's final and most revolutionary masterpiece, Finnegans Wake....

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Finnegans Wake

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Overview

Having done the longest day in literature with his monumental Ulysses, James Joyce set himself even greater challenges 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 in the 1939 publication of Joyce's final and most revolutionary masterpiece, Finnegans Wake.

A story with no real beginning or end (it ends in the middle of a sentence and begins in the middle of the same sentence), this "book of Doublends Jined" is as remarkable for its prose as for its circular structure. Written in a fantantic dream language, forged from polyglot puns and portmanteau words, the Wake features some of Joyce's most brilliant inventive work. Sixty years after its original 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."

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What People Are Saying

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)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780141181264
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 9/1/1999
  • Series: Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin Series
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 672
  • Sales rank: 170,848
  • Product dimensions: 5.59 (w) x 8.43 (h) x 1.46 (d)

Meet the Author

James Joyce
James Joyce
You know an author is powerful when his name becomes a literary adjective; and "Joycean" is regularly applied to the countless writers James Joyce has influenced as one of the 20th century's greatest writers. His flowing, sometimes musical, often challenging prose -- most famously in the epic Ulysses -- has provoked and inspired readers.

Biography

James Joyce was born in Dublin on February 2, 1882. He was the oldest of ten children in a family which, after brief prosperity, collapsed into poverty. Nonetheless, he was educated at the best Jesuit schools and then at University College, Dublin, where he gave proof of his extraordinary talent.

In 1902, following his graduation, he went to Paris, thinking he might attend medical school there, but he soon gave up attending lectures and devoted himself to writing poems and prose sketches, and formulating an "aesthetic system'." Recalled to Dublin in April 1903 because of the fatal illness of his mother, he circled slowly towards his literary career. During the summer of 1904 he met a young woman from Galway, Nora Barnacle, and persuaded her to go with him to the Continent, where he planned to teach English.The young couple spent a few months in Pola (now in Yugoslavia), then in 1905 moved to Trieste, where, except for seven months in Rome and three trips to Dublin, they lived until June 1915. They had two children, a son and a daughter. His first book, the poems of Chamber Music, was published in London in 1907, and Dubliners, a book of stories, in 1914. Italy's entrance into the First World War obliged Joyce to move to Zürich, where he remained until 1919. During this period he published A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916) and Exiles, a play (1918).

After a brief return to Trieste following the armistice, Joyce determined to move to Paris so as to arrange more easily for the publication of Ulysses, a book which he had been working on since 1914. It was, in fact, published on his birthday in Paris, in 1922, and brought him international fame. The same year he began work on Finnegan's Wake, and though much harassed by eye troubles, and deeply affected by his daughter's mental illness, he completed and published that book in 1939. After the outbreak of the Second World War, he went to live in Unoccupied France, then managed to secure permission in December 1940 to return to Zürich. Joyce died there six weeks later, on 13 January 1941, and was buried in the Fluntern Cemetery.

Author biography courtesy of Penguin Group (USA).

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    1. Date of Birth:
      February 2, 1882
    2. Place of Birth:
      Dublin, Ireland
    1. Date of Death:
      January 13, 1941
    2. Place of Death:
      Zurich, Switzerland
    1. Education:
      B.A., University College, Dublin, 1902
    2. Website:

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 18 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 17 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Totally Unique, Thought-Provoking, Aggravating, & Memorable!

    Awesome and worth reading! Actually found that I liked FW much more than expected and Ulysses somewhat less (though still a great book). It surprised me. Hey, at 628 pages (long but not onerous), if you love literature, you should defintely sit down, read it, and see what all the fuss is about.

    My experience: am a self-taught lit reader, reading my way thru the classics, but by no means an "expert". After reading Ulysses, I thought I would just dip into FW, expected not to understand anything, and at least be able to say that I too read FW and found it awful. Surprise. It is indeed very, very opaque. Somehow, though, by puzzling thru what Joyce is trying to say, you "connect" with the book and writer and it springboards your own thinking. The themes are universal and thought-provoking: e.g., the cyclicality of night/"waking", death/rebirth, the "good" twin/"bad" twin archetypes, etc. There is also the whole puzzle of the "plot", puns, wordplays, and references to the Bible, numerology, fables, and even Alice in Wonderland! Btw, the intro to this edition is really good and clarifies many of these things and what to look for - all a 1st time reader really needs.

    Joyce considered this his masterpiece. Many of the themes begun in Ulysses (transmigration of souls, etc.) are developed here. Ulysses is a grand, intellectual masterpiece, but I think that it's in FW that you really understand this writer's heart and soul.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 23, 2011

    just ordered

    so, not a review. But I am a fan of Joseph Campbell and he walked around with this book under his arm for years. His wife jokingly called it her competition. I just ordered it but the reviews have me a little scared!! Not exactly a summer read I guess.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2010

    Cuz of South of Broad

    To make a short story long, while I was reading South of Broad by Pat Conroy, I ran across a reference to Ulysses and Bloomsday.

    I thought I'd be really "cool" and get Ulysses from B and N and read that. Well, at the same time, why not get Finn also.

    Truth be told, I couldn't make head or tale out of either of them.

    Sorry.

    EEL

    1 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2009

    really really hard....

    It's a hard book to read yet I can't stop reading it. When I read part of a section of 50 pages I didn't realize it was about to men shaking hands. But I think this is a good book to read.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2000

    The ultimate in Modernism

    Finnegans Wake (no apostrophe!) takes Joyce's linguistic experiments to a logical conclusion. The strange and malleable quality of the writing is all but overwhelming (and for most people incomprehensible), and what scraps of setting, character and plot remain are swept away by this constantly-changing dreamscape. Probably the best way to enjoy this book is to keep in mind that, like Ulysses, it is primarily a comedy. Puns and jokes abound, and that can prove very amusing even for those of us that can't begin to fathom the 'real meaning' of the text. No one has attempted a linguistic experiment on this scale since, so this remains probably the most radical 'radical text' in existence.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 8, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    brilliant tho i suggest the annotations to help along with the i

    brilliant tho i suggest the annotations to help along with the infinite variety of meanings within each word

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 12, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    test

    test

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2007

    a humble footnote

    i can only add my voice to those encouraging the wary to dip into this compendium of joy

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2005

    Nice story

    You will probably consider this novel to be difficult. I agree with anybody who thinks so. It is very difficult. It certainly is hard to grasp, but once you get into it, that is it. James Joyce stretched the language and brought the book to a far higher form of writing that is uncommon around. Uncommon in the sense that you have to get into it to love it. For easier, compelling reads, I recommend the works of Janvier Tisi, James Carrol ans Sydney Sheldon.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2002

    Staring in the end

    Try reading the last line of the book then read the first half sentence of the book then it seems to make the most sense of anything in the forsaken book, but all in all, by trying to confuse the reader Joyce has liberated us writers to step outside are lines and really write. Yay Joyce. "TO CLAY TAMOR" and "whew!" as its own para. thats amazing !!!!! sir.charles

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2001

    edra em

    I have just finished the first four chapters of this book and I can't tell you one thing that it is about. I can tell you that it is a combination of the 'boringness' of the begat chapters from the Bible, and the fascination of Revelations. This book is like listening to a great piece of music or overhearing a conversation that is in a foreign language. No one knows the meanings of these things, but everyone enjoys eavesdropping or being seduced by Beethoven. This book is Joyce's personal language, albeit pompous for Joyce to presume that it would become great, it is a circus--a circus of monkeys or soothsayers is for you to decide.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2001

    riverrun past Eve And Adam's

    This relentingly strange work of fiction was the last and i think best by the finest writer of the first half of the prior century,-people feel it to be a work of madness,-but i know not of a better work of the history of the universe,-for the discerning reader of modernist texts,-

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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