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Finnegans Wake Options
Posted: Thursday, April 9, 2009 9:20:31 AM
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How are we supposed to read this book. Many words are not in The Free Dictionary. How are we supposed to figure out the meaning of Joyce's idioglossia. Are we supposed to guess, for crying out loud? If not guessing, what is the mechanism for gleaning meaning?
Posted: Thursday, April 9, 2009 11:36:12 AM
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My professor recommended reading it out loud, b/c there are some phrases and pop culture references that aren't as easily recognized when they're just read silently. I found it helped...a little.

FW is one of those books (or maybe the only one) where you read uncomprehendingly for several pages before getting a tiny inkling of a clue, or a random phrase, or bit of song, or whatever. I sure hope you're reading it with a class, though. I only got through a quarter of it, but since you've seen the book you can understand why that's still a kind of accomplishment. Good luck!
Posted: Thursday, April 9, 2009 1:26:42 PM
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I spent a summer studying in Dublin a few years back. As you might imagine, James Joyce is a pretty big deal there. I've been intrigued by the author and his work since then, and I've read Dubliners but have yet to take on Finnegans Wake. I am very curious though.
Posted: Friday, April 10, 2009 6:37:28 PM

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The best advice I know of for getting into Finnegans Wake is what LiteBrite suggested: Either read it out loud to yourself, or get a couple of people together to take turns reading to each other. The book is closer to poetry than to prose, IMHO, and really benefits from being heard rather than read. An Irish harpist recorded some passages from FW, and they might help you get started Patrick Ball's Readings from Finnegans Wake. Interesting factoid: Joyce was adamant about there not being a possessive apostrophe in the title of the book.

That said, there are any number of books available with tons of commentary and explication of the two or three or eight or ten references, echoes, and subtle hints that Joyce crammed into each oddly spelled and strangely used word. But I always wanted to first read the thing straight through without making any connections other than those based on my own knowledge. Good luck with the project--if you manage to get further than a third of the way through the thing you've got me beat!
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