Finnegans Wake

Finnegans Wake


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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."

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780141181264
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/01/1999
Series: Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin Series
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 672
Sales rank: 76,316
Product dimensions: 5.44(w) x 8.39(h) x 1.36(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

James Joyce (1882–1941), an Irish poet and novelist, was one of the most celebrated writers of the twentieth century. His works include UlyssesFinnegans Wake, and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

Date of Birth:

February 2, 1882

Date of Death:

January 13, 1941

Place of Birth:

Dublin, Ireland

Place of Death:

Zurich, Switzerland


B.A., University College, Dublin, 1902

Table of Contents

Introduction vii
A Note on the Text xxix
Book I
Book II
Book III
Book IV

What People are Saying About This

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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Finnegan's Wake 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just great!!!
agricolaoval on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
aethercowboy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
Linus_Linus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
DonnaMarieMerritt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Brilliant wordplay, irony, satire, alliteration, rhyme, assonance, consonance, nonce, spoonerisms, and so on¿but I have absolutely no idea what it was about.
Ganeshaka on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"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 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.
JCamilo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Some aspects of Finnegans Wake must be said: It is irrelevant if it is prententious. Of course it is, no one takes as much time as Joyce did if he didn't believed to be working in something special. That does not change the quality of the book - Paradise Lost or The Divine Comedy are also pretentious. Joyce didn't write a book that was to be read in the usual sense, he was writing a bible, so those who never finished the book, have done almost what Joyce wanted. Understanding? Understanding the meaning of the text or even of the words is irrelevant. Enjoying it is what matter. There will be alway something left to be discovered, this is a masterwork because of that.There is no story? Literature is not about the plot, no matter what the industry of best-sellers try to impose. Some unfinished stories are among the greatest momments of literature and poetry (this book is a non petit prose poem) is not about meanings, but language. And Joyce mastered it in Finnegans Wake.
ateolf on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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 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...
gazzy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Like staring at a Chuck Close painting hanging in a room only two feet in depth.
wirkman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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."
tripleblessings on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
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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.
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guitaoist3 More than 1 year ago
brilliant tho i suggest the annotations to help along with the infinite variety of meanings within each word
Guest More than 1 year ago
i can only add my voice to those encouraging the wary to dip into this compendium of joy
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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,-
stareid More than 1 year ago
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.