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Finnegans Wake (Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin) Reissue Edition

276 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0141181264
ISBN-10: 0141181265
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Editorial Reviews


'Listening to Jim Norton and Marcella Riordan is a lot easier than trying to read the book.' (The Guardian) 'It's estimated that a complete recording of this eccentric masterpiece would run to about 20 CDs, but Naxos has made an attractive abridgement in four, recorded with wit and clarity by Jim Norton and Marcella Riordan. I've never met anyone who has actually managed to read every page of this extraordinary book...and there can be little doubt that Joyce intended his work to be listened to as much as read. This brilliant recording is the perfect short cut for slackers, poseurs and insomniacs.' (Robert McCrum, The Observer) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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.

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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: 5.5 x 1.5 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (276 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #46,683 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

513 of 537 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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351 of 379 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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158 of 176 people found the following review helpful 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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64 of 71 people found the following review helpful By Phil Moores on January 2, 2003
Format: Paperback
I've just reached the end ... or is it the beginning? It's taken me six months, with Anthony Burgess' 'Here Comes Everybody' providing a basic and unsatisfactory commentary on this nightmare of a book. I can't really recommend anybody to read this unless you know exactly what you're letting yourself in for ... unlike Ulysses, which I believe everybody should attempt at some point in their lives. So why have I given it 5 stars? Because it simply had to be written.
Without the Wake, twentieth century fiction would have been simply an extension of the nineteenth century. This book is what sets us apart. Don't believe the people who tell you it's a joke - a genius like Joyce doesn't spend 15 years, resign himself to penury when a "Ulysses Lite" could have made him a rich man, and ultimately ruin his eyesight all for nothing more than the literary equivalent of a whoopee cushion. There are deep things here, it's just that they're buried so deep that it's mostly not worth the effort of mining them. But again, I've given it 5 stars because this book is like a nail bomb in a library (shhhhh!) - it destroyed everyone's perception of what could ever constitute literature. If the Wake can be created, anything is possible. The Wake gave the green light to everyone's wildest imaginings and bizarre method of telling it - after all, whatever you write it won't be as difficult or as slow or as mad or as painful as this work.
Don't let anybody tell you that there is an easy way into this book. Whichever way you approach it, however many primers and explanations you read, nothing will prepare you for 650 pages of dense dream-imagery written in polyglottal puns through which you grasp at anything that makes the slightest sense (and I mean slightest).
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