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Finnegans Wake: Centennial Edition Fourteenth Printing Edition

3.7 out of 5 stars 291 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0140062861
ISBN-10: 0140062866
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--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Experimental novel by James Joyce. Extracts of the work appeared as Work in Progress from 1928 to 1937, and it was published in its entirety as Finnegans Wake in 1939. The book is, in one sense, the story of a publican in Chapelizod (near Dublin), his wife, and their three children; but Mr. Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker, Mrs. Anna Livia Plurabelle, and Kevin, Jerry, and Isabel are every family of mankind. The motive idea of the novel, inspired by the 18th-century Italian philosopher Giambattista Vico, is that history is cyclic; to demonstrate this the book begins with the end of a sentence left unfinished on the last page. Languages merge: Anna Livia has "vlossyhair"--wlosy being Polish for "hair"; "a bad of wind" blows--bad being Persian for "wind." Characters from literature and history appear and merge and disappear. On another level, the protagonists are the city of Dublin and the River Liffey standing as representatives of the history of Ireland and, by extension, of all human history. As he had in his earlier work Ulysses, Joyce drew upon an encyclopedic range of literary works. His strange polyglot idiom of puns and portmanteau words is intended to convey not only the relationship between the conscious and the unconscious but also the interweaving of Irish language and mythology with the languages and mythologies of many other cultures. -- The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature

About the Author

Robbert-Jan Henkes and Eric Bindervoet are writers, translators, and artists based in Amsterdam. They translated Finnegans Wake into Dutch in 2002 in a bilingual edition, and it is their English setting that provides the text of this edition. Their translations of King Lear and Ulysses will appear in 2012. Finn Fordham is the author of Lots of Fun at Finnegans Wake (2007) and I do I undo I redo: the Textual Genesis of Modernist Selves in Hopkins, Yeats, Conrad, Forster, Joyce, and Woolf. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Fourteenth Printing edition (February 25, 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140062866
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140062861
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.2 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (291 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #443,682 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Okay, this edition of Finnegans Wake may not exactly be dishonest, but it is disingenuous enough to be seriously misleading. Up front they tell you that the text of the book is taken from the first edition published in May of 1939. This is true, but it doesn't tell the whole story, and most people have no idea what it really means.
Finnegans Wake was originally published in 1939. The first edition was replete with errors and typos -- thousands of them. James Joyce spent the last two years of his life (he died in 1941) going through the text correcting the mistakes. An errata list comprising many single-spaced pages was printed in the back of the second edition, and the third edition had all of Joyce's corrections incorporated into the text. So the third edition is the definitive one.
But Penguin is reprinting the first edition. Get it? The text you'll be reading will have all of the typos that Joyce spent two years correcting -- uncorrected.
Viking does have the third edition of Finnegans Wake in print. It's smaller, with smaller type and not nearly as pretty a cover, but it's the text that Joyce approved. I would get that one (it has a white cover with a green stripe going across the middle of it), and leave this edition alone.
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Format: Paperback
"Finnegans Wake" is a novel for people who are tired of reading novels. The chapter summaries in the table of contents, and not the body of the novel itself, give evidence of a plot, which concerns the dream-consciousness of a man whose initials H.C.E. recur as an acronym at various points in the text and whose wife Anna Livia Plurabelle, sons Shem (the Penman) and Shaun (the Postman), and daughter Issy figure prominently among many other exotic and unexpected characters. However, the presentation is so nebulous and abstract that the novel resembles nothing else in literature, although the style looks deceptively easy to imitate.
Upon first looking at the pages of "Finnegans Wake," one inevitably must wonder what it's supposed to be. My explanation of it is an extension of my theory about "Ulysses," which is that "Ulysses" was Joyce's effort to write a novel that used every single existing word in the English language, or at least as many as he could. (Among its 400,000 words, "Ulysses" certainly has a much broader lexicon than any other novel of comparable length.) Having exhausted all the possibilities of English in "Ulysses," he had only one recourse for his next project, which was to create an entirely new language as a pastiche of all the existing ones; the result is "Finnegans Wake."
The language in "Finnegans Wake" is a continuum of puns, portmanteaus, disfigured words, anagrams, and rare scraps of straightforward prose. What Joyce does is exploit the way words look and sound in order to associate them with remote, unrelated ideas.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I love Finnegans Wake, but I had to read it more than once before I felt that way about it. I read it the first time because I heard it was perhaps the most difficult book to read that had ever been written, and I wanted to see if I could do it. It took me more than two years to read it the first time. I read it with the help of the Ronald McHugh book which takes Finnegans Wake line by line and defines foreign and obscure words. I hoped that this would help me understand the book as a whole. It didn't. There were parts here and there I could make out and puns I could enjoy, but I felt hopelessly lost and decided to have nothing more to do with the book once I had finished it. However, I could not get Finnegans Wake out of my mind and decided to tackle it again a few years later. Even though there was more that I understood then than I did the first time I read it, it was still a struggle and it appeared that it would take me as long to finish it the second time as it did the first. One night as I was reading it in a state between being awake and asleep, I started dreaming. As it usually happened, my dreams jumped around from one thing to another with no logic at all. I found myself talking with others in the dream but did not understand the gist of the conversation I was having. I understood the words, but they didn't seem to be connected to each other. As I went in and out of this half awake and half dream state, I thought that dreaming was a lot like reading Finnegans Wake and that reading Finnegans Wake was a lot like dreaming. At that point I completely woke up and realized that my approach to reading the book could not have been more wrong headed. Instead of trying to understand every word and paragraph, I needed to go with the flow and read steadily without stopping.Read more ›
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By A Customer on December 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
To answer a few points made by other reviewers:
1) Yes, some people have finished this book. I have, and so have several people I know.
2) Some people enjoy this book. (see above).
3) It isn't just self-indulgence by academics. For example: a Professor of English Literature at Oxford University has said that it's not worth reading. Lots of academics have. These are people who 'know everything' for a job. Can you imagine how much FW annoys them?
4) It's hard. Yes, that's right, hard. But hard can be fun. Just like sex. (FW does take longer though).
5) The reason why lovers of Joyce sound so passionate about it is that they genuinely feel that way. For real. Imagine you'd fallen in love and noone around you had a clue what it felt like. You'd want to shake them and tell them.
6) It makes sense. To fully understand it (if that's possible) would take generations of study. But i) If you're reading for pleasure, not ego kicks, surely how much you get out matters more than what proportion of the book's meaning you can lay claim to, ii) like life, reading FW is made up of lots of small pleasures and ii) Lighten up!! It's funny! Anyway, when was the last time you 'fully' understood a book?
It's easy to see why the great majority of people would decide that they had other priorities. I respect that opinion. But please don't fling insults at a book that some of us love. Yes, love. Reading FW was a high-point of my life. Emotion and excitement: anger, frustration, joy, humour, delight, even boredom. Deep relationships are difficult. They hurt. And they make us more alive.
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