Wednesday, March 19, 2014

James Joyce

It was St. Patrick's day at the library, but I swear I wasn't thinking of that at all. I was upstairs shelving in fiction where it gets very heavy at the ends of the "J's" and the start of the "K's", literarily heavy, all James Joyce and Franz Kafka. As I do, compulsively, frequently, and appropriately, I pulled a book off the shelf to take a look. Something about Finnegans Wake, by James Joyce, called to me. I think it was the nice old edition we have.

Oh my. This book is splendid! Out amidst the stacks and stacks of books all screaming about their own wonderfulness, but all roughly enough the same with their stories and characters and normal English and all that, I finally open a lauded book and it is MADNESS. I cannot even begin to dare to formulate any real opinion about this thing by looking at the first page. Do you know how rare that is?

You may have read every word James Joyce ever wrote and this is nothing to you. Surely I have opened Ulysses several dozen times and thought how wonderful I might be if I would read such a thing. But today I am here without agenda. There is no way I will read Finnegans Wake. If I didn't decide to tell you about it I doubt I would have fully worked my way through a whole sentence. A whole sentence... here, let me share a random one with you from the first page of this book:

"Rot a peck of pa's malt had Jhem or Shen brewed by arclight and rory end to the regginbrow was to be seen ringsome on the aquaface."

You can't see my Google spell check light up like a four alarm fire here, but it has. In fact, I think that sentence just broke my spell check, and more power to it. That spell check and I have never gotten along. And if you're thinking I only chose that sentence because it was especially fulsome, you are mistaken. I chose it because it did not contain the word 


which is a word that I seriously did not want to have to type. The jokes on me though. I typed it anyway.

It wasn't so bad.

I took Finnegans Wake downstairs with me to admire on my dinner break, or, as it turns out, to blog about, but certainly not to read. But who needs to read it when I've already extracted such joy from it?

So, I wish to you, a late happy St Patrick's day from "out in the park where oranges have been laid to rust upon the green since devlinsfirst loved livvy."

Well, I may read it just a little...


  1. Yeah, all that "Normal English" does tend to wear on a person after awhile! Great post. You read Finnegans Wake for the both of us though, okay?

  2. James Joyce is a Genius, and if he wants to do Chrysler commercials then that's his, oh, I conflated your posts again, didn't I? How embarrassing!

  3. Oh, yes, I think you're looking for the Bob Dylan posts. They're somewhere nearby.

  4. Joseph Campbell's "Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake" would be a good place for any serious reader to begin a lifelong friendship with Joyce. Not surprisingly, the next work by Campbell was "Hero with a Thousand Faces." Now where did he get that idea??

    1. Thank you for your comment. If only there were anyone else here to read it. Anyway, I'm delighted that you loved my blog post (I read between the lines of your comment), and look forward to all your future comments, which I'm hoping will class this place up a bit.

      In my inch deep, but surprisingly wide understanding, I had taken Campbell's main, er, source, for "Hero" as Jung. Is this not so then? I'm ready to take your word for it.


If you were wondering, yes, you should comment. Not only does it remind me that I must write in intelligible English because someone is actually reading what I write, but it is also a pleasure for me since I am interested in anything you have to say.

I respond to pretty much every comment. It's like a free personalized blog post!

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