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The Illustrated Finnegans Wake

You know what I can’t stand?

Those stupid blogs about some guy tracking his progress reading through a book or a bunch of books. Ugh. What a horrible idea.

I jest. Actually, I love those blogs–uh, I write one–and that’s why I thought it was cool to find this little gem a few weeks ago.

This guy is reading his way through James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake. But there’s a catch: He’s illustrating the book as a he goes. He calls it a “foolhardy attempt,” but I think it’s a pretty cool idea.

The guy’s name is Stephen (Is the that really his name? Or a homage to Joyce’s Stephen Dedalus?). He explains the trickiness of illustrating the book this way:

“Nothing that appears  in Finnegans Wake is ever just one thing. How exactly do you draw a talking fox which is also a mouse, one of two arguing brothers, a pope, and modernist author Wyndham Lewis?”

You’ve got me. I don’t have a great opinion of Finnegan’s Wake. I would rather run 5 miles wearing an Amish dress than read that whole book. But even I can appreciate this blog. It’s a unique idea that’s being well executed, and that’s what makes a great blog.

So check out Wake In Progress if you get a chance.

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12 Comments Post a comment
  1. hmm- an original approach to reading a book

    Like

    October 17, 2012
  2. I admit to sharing your opinion of Finnegan’s Wake. Seems like a waste of time to me. But I am intrigued that we are somehow attracted to a work of such obscurity, insofar as the very obscurity itself tends to draw us in. “What the heck is that all about,” we want to ask. Anything that appears impenetrable just goads us into the attempt.

    The approach is interesting, though, and I have used it myself on certain books written by writers of the Frankfurt School of critical theory. The very process of writing and articulating one’s thoughts, even if only on paper/computer screen seems to help one understand the thoughts being conveyed by the author. Does one really understand something unless he or she has organized their thoughts in a way required by writing them down?

    Like

    October 17, 2012
    • Maybe Finnegan’s Wake is a literary train wreck…so bad you have to watch. But I love this guy’s approach.

      Like

      October 17, 2012
  3. I haven’t read the book either, but what an innovative idea! I love it!

    Like

    October 17, 2012
    • You probably don’t want to read the book. I’m not even sure it can be “read” in the traditional sense. Just go read the opening paragraph from the post I linked to in this post. It’s insane.

      Like

      October 17, 2012
  4. Howard #

    Finnegans Wake brings out the inferiority complex in so many readers. I love how we’re supposed to think your hate-on for the book is somehow relevant, when not only do you admit you haven’t read it, but you can’t even be bothered to spell the title correctly.

    Not up to the challenge, Robert? Must be Joyce’s fault then.

    Like

    October 17, 2012
    • Shem! Welcome back!

      Like

      October 18, 2012
      • Howard #

        So tell me, Robert, if Finnegans Wake can’t be read in the traditional sense, how come there are people like me who have read it and enjoyed it? Sour grapes much?

        Like

        October 18, 2012
        • It can be read. It can’t be read without a litany of other books and resources to help you understand what you are reading. That’s not enjoyable to me. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Joyce would be proud of you.

          Like

          October 18, 2012
  5. While my experience of reading Finnegans Wake was similar to having a nervous breakdown, the way in which Joyce plays with languages is masterful. I also loved his humor and poetic prose.

    Like

    October 18, 2012
  6. I thought I’d really accomplished something just being able to put a photo on my blog. This is just oneupmanship. Not that I am eating sour grapes at all…….

    Like

    October 18, 2012

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