Finnegans Wake is a strange book, a compound of fable, symphony, and nightmare—a monstrous enigma. A dream which has freed the author from the necessities of common logic and has enabled him to compress all periods of history, all phases of individual and racial development, into a circular design, of which every part is beginning, middle, and end.
Joyce’s seventeen years writing process for the book shows an extreme amount of care in a collection of words, which opens it up to a range of readers that may not be as inclined to enjoy other challenging literary works, because it is not necessary to comprehend it as a totality to profit from or enjoy it. Interpretations and knowledge of the text change subject to what languages one speaks, to one’s literary predilections, to one’s preferred method of literary analysis and to one’s interests. It reveals a reader’s monomanias, differentialities, and peculiar areas of expertise.
“One great part of every human existence is passed in a state which cannot be rendered sensible by the use of wideawake language, cutanddry grammar and goahead plot.”
We will read aloud a few pages of this great novel of comic seriousness and poetic prose. The sound and sense of Joyce's words work the necessary magic for the reader of the Wake, the greater familiarity with those words the closer the reader comes to an understanding of the book for himself, much more than any scholar can offer in explication.
There is a hidden pleasure in what is not understandable as it generates a state of being on the edge of consciousness where something unknown may become known or not. Once something is known it can never return to the latent state of unknowness. Finnegans Wake is the single work of literature that can provide and maintain the idea of being close to knowledge without touching it. Where one is able to merge unconsciousness and consciousness in the act of reading, simulating the primary state of being. The active cultivation of ignorance is an eternal wish to know more with a comfortable feeling of never knowing enough. What a great book the one which is capable of producing this.
The book will be approached in a slow, relaxed, and maybe even wrong way.
Finnegans Wake is better when spoken aloud!
In Finnegans Wake X does not equal Y. Rather Y should be borne in mind while reading X.
If our society should go to smash tomorrow (which as Joyce implies, it may) one could find all the pieces, together with the forces that broke them, in Finnegans Wake. The book is a kind of terminal moraine in which lie buried all the myths, programmes, slogans, hopes, prayers, tools, educational theories, and theological bric-a-brac of the past millennium. And here, too, we will find the love that reanimates this debris. . . Through notes that finally become tunable to our ears, we hear James Joyce uttering his resilient, all enjoying, all animating 'Yes', the Yes of things to come, a Yes from beyond every zone of disillusionment, such as few have had the heart to utter.