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Finnegans Wake (Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin) Paperback – December 1, 1999

ISBN-13: 978-0141181264 ISBN-10: 0141181265 Edition: Reissue

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Finnegans Wake (Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin) + A Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake: Unlocking James Joyce's Masterwork (The Collected Works of Joseph Campbell)
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Product Details

  • Series: Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin
  • Paperback: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reissue edition (December 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141181265
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141181264
  • Product Dimensions: 2.2 x 3.3 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (249 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,987 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

James Joyce was born in Rathgar, Dublin, in 1882. In 1904 he and Nora Barnacle (whom he married in 1931) left Ireland for Trieste. Abroad, free from the restrictions he felt in Ireland, Joyce felt compelled to write of his native land, producing Dubliners (1914) and A Portrait of the Artist as Young Man (1916). During World War I, he lived in Zurich from 1915 to 1919, and in 1920 moved to Paris, where he spent most of the rest of his life. Towards the end of December 1939 James Joyce and Nora Barnacle left Paris for a small village near Vichy and ultimately settled in Zurich, where he died in January 1941. His major works, pioneering the 'stream of consciousness' style, are the novels Ulysses (1922) and Finnegans Wake (1939). --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Just like sex.
"thelessdeceived"
I encountered no setting, no characters, no plot, no narration, nothing concrete nor conceptual.
DonAthos
Joyce was a master with language and this book was his 'masterpiece' of language play.
Zappagirl

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

380 of 399 people found the following review helpful By Tom Moran on December 13, 2001
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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325 of 351 people found the following review helpful By A.J. on March 22, 2004
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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117 of 130 people found the following review helpful By "thelessdeceived" 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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85 of 97 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 12, 2000
Format: Audio Cassette
Call me crazy, but I almost never stop reading a book I started. Sometimes I'm sorry I didn't give it up at first, but other times (e.g., "Moby Dick") I'm not.
It took me five years to read finnegan's wake, on and off. It is probably the hardest book to read in the English language (I won't go into Joyce's use of German, French, Latin, Hebrew, etc.)
But why is it worth it? What makes Finnegan's wake different from utter nonsense? A LOT. Many readers complain that they can only understand two or three points every page. True for me as well. But when I checked, the obscure points of the seemingly meaningless sentences *always* had some deeper meaning.
For example, let us start with the title: "Finnegans wake" (the apostrophe that appears in many editions is a mistake.) There is at least a triple meaning: "Finnegan's wake", the wake of the mystical hero; "finnegans wake" - the Irish are waking up; and "fin-again wake" - showing the cyclical nature of the dream history of this book.
Or take the year, 1132, that appears in the book quite a lot (sometimes in the guise of 566, which is 1132/2). It symbolizes the the circularity of history (11=10+1, starting to count again after reaching 10) and the fall of empires (bodies fall at 32 ft/sec^2).
Or take the case of the dreamer's son, who falls from the sky as "a bare godkin". It is both a description of his condition (a naked son of God) and a pun on Hamlet's "a bare bodkin" (an unsheated dagger.)
These are just three examples. But this is where Joyce's genius is - and the enjoyment of the book is. It's just plain fun to figure these things out - and when you *do* figure them out, the real meaning of the text, and the story, begins to show.
It's hard work, but it's worth it.
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