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Finnegan's Wake (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – September 1, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0141183114 ISBN-10: 014118311X

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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Modern Classics
  • Paperback: 688 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books, Limited (UK) (September 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014118311X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141183114
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 4.9 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (251 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,320,422 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 Dublin in 1882, but exiled himself to Paris at twenty as a rebellion against his upbringing. He only returned to Ireland briefly from the Continent but Dublin was at heart of his greatest works, Ulysees and Finnegans Wake. He lived in poverty until the last ten years of his life and was plagued by near blindness and the grief of his daughter's insanity. He died in 1941.

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Customer Reviews

It would be completely impossible to read this like a novel, page to page, chapter to chapter.
Bud Kinch
For one thing, if the author needs to disguise the plot with a ton of fancy language, it just means the plot is too thin to be interesting on its own.
Merricart
Finnegan 's Wake thus stands more as kind of chapter in the literary biography of Joyce than as a literary work of value in itself.
Shalom Freedman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

415 of 435 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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329 of 355 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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123 of 138 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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40 of 44 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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