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Context Literature / FinnegansWake

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1[[quoteright:350:]] ²[[caption-width-right:350:First Edition, Faber and Faber, UK]]²²->''"Despite these obstacles, readers and commentators have reached a broad consensus about the book's central cast of characters and, to a lesser degree, its plot."''²-->-- Wiki/TheOtherWiki on ''Finnegans Wake''²²''Finnegans Wake''[[note]]The lack of apostrophe is deliberate. If you want rigidly accurate grammar and spelling, this is definitely not the book for you.[[/note]] is a sack of miscellaneous words that might generously be called a novel, written by Creator/JamesJoyce in 1939. It took him 17 years to write, and may take nearly as long to read. The novel is written in English but an idiosyncratic version of the language specifically created for this book. It is an English adapted and inflected with several multilingual and multilayered puns in the style of Creator/LewisCarroll's ''Jabberwocky'' albeit on a far bigger scale. It contains elements, usually obscure puns, from over 60 world languages. The title is a reference to a 1850s Irish ballad called "Finnegan's Wake"[[note]]It has the apostrophe as you may notice[[/note]], a drinking song that tells the story of a man resurrected at his funeral when whiskey is spilled on his corpse. ²²Joyce began writing the book after a year long sabbatical from writing after publishing ''Literature/{{Ulysses}}'', and the novel was published serially in literary journals in the 20s and 30s under its WorkingTitle: "[[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin Work in Progress]]". It was finally fully published in 1939 under its famous title, two years before Joyce's death. Right from the time of its serial publication, it has attracted controversy, fierce debates, and stern defenses. ²²The plot, discerned over careful readings, concerns a family in the [[ Chapelizod area]] of UsefulNotes/{{Dublin}}, a group of individuals identified as Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker (HCE), his wife Anna Livia Plurabelle (ALP), and their children -- brothers Shem and Shaun, and the young sister Issy. Hilarity and Contrapuntal puns Ensue. ²²It helps to hear it being [[ read aloud]].²²If you would like to read a description written in the same style as the book, see the ''[[SelfDemonstrating.FinnegansWake self demonstrating page]]''.²----²!!''Finnegans Wake'' contains examples of these tropes:²²* AluminiumChristmasTrees: [[ One section that is surprising to modern readers]] concerns characters watching a discussion on television. The technology of the television had already been unveiled and demonstrated by John Logie Baird in 1925, but had certainly not become a popular mass medium. In other words, this section of the book is technically science-fiction, and accurate in how it anticipates TV watching at pubs in the future. ²* AllJustADream: A common EpilepticTree, possibly supported by WordOfGod. Not to mention the word "wake" can mean either a funeral ceremony or waking up. Although part of the point of the book is that dreams aren't "just" dreams.²* AmbiguousSyntax: The title gives us a twofer:²** The lack of an apostrophe in "Finnigans." Is it indeed meant to mean "The Wake belonging to the individual named Finnigan," in which case the missing apostrophe is likely meant to be just a taste of the nonstop Linguistic Terrorism to come? Or is it meant to imply a ''plurality'' of Finnigans who are undergoing a Wake?²** Is the titular "Wake" supposed to be Finnigan(s) waking up from sleep, or is the word being used in the sense of an Irish funeral?²* AnachronicOrder: Doesn't really have a beginning, [[NoEnding doesn't have an ending either]]. Not to mention the "story" jumps back and forth through many stages of history. There's a good chance any given historical event or person prior to 1939 has been mentioned in the ''Wake.''²* AnthropomorphicPersonification: HCE represents the landscape of Dublin, Anna Livia [[note]]from ''Abhainn na Life''[[/note]] the river Liffey, Issy takes the form of clouds and light rain.²* ArcNumber: 1132 appears repeatedly, both as a date and in various addresses. [[note]]AD 1132 saw the defilement of a nunnery at Kildare, particularly marked by the rape of the abbess; the man who ordered the attack, Dermot mac Murrough, did so as a move to make the abbess unfit for her office and force her removal in favor of a kinswoman of his own. Mac Murrough's lust for power caused a great deal of internal strife, and it was he who, some thirty-seven years later, offered an allegiance with the Normans which became the second (after the Vikings came in in the 9th century) of many long and humiliating occupations of Ireland. James Joyce, like many, traced Ireland's history of oppression, treachery, and sectarian strife firmly back to the rape of the abbess of Kildare.[[/note]]²* ArcWords: more like Arc Cadences, really. Many phrases throughout the book -- such as "Buckley shot the Russian general", "hitherandthithering waters of. Night", "Earwicker", and of course "Finnegans wake" itself -- reoccur in highly modified forms, so that often only the broad rhythm survives. The effect is like that of variations in a musical theme.²* AuthorAvatar: To a certain degree, HCE does represent Joyce; but he also represents many other things as well. Shem the Penman can also be seen as a stand-in for Joyce, and is used frequently by Joyce to view himself critically.²* BeastFable: "The Mookse and the Gripes" and "The Ondt and the Gracehoper" are two quite fun examples.²* BilingualBonus: More like ''Nonalingual'' Bonus. As the HurricaneOfPuns entry below states, you'd have to be fairly knowledgeable in nine different languages (not including English) to even understand more than half the jokes. ²* BookEnds: as well as the opening/closing sentence fragments, the characters Mutt and Jute from chapter one show up again in the final chapter (as Muta and Juva) to discuss the sunrise and celebrate HCE waking up.²* BrotherSisterIncest: Shem and Shaun towards Issy.²* CallBack: In the penultimate chapter, ALP comforts Shaun after he has a nightmare about "phanthares in the room", mirroring Haines' nightmares about a panther in Literature/{{Ulysses}}. The book is also full of hidden references to Bloom and Stephen's experiences in the earlier books, and even several passages fully rewritten in "Wakese".²* DecompositeCharacter: The central cast of HCE, ALP, Shaun, Shem and Issy are often refracted under new names and puns, and no one's sure if these are the same characters or different characters with the same name and theme. ²* DoubleMeaningTitle: As noted by Anthony Burgess, the title has multiple meanings. ²** Obviously it refers to the famous Irish ballad from the 19th Century music hall. But since it doesn't have an apostrophe like the song, it becomes a plural, implying multiple Finnegans rather than a single Finnegan. Likewise, the words "Fin" or "Fine" means End in French and Italian, forming the multi-lingual pun of "Fin Again Wake" or "End Again Wake" i.e. an eternal cycle of multiple ends and wakes. [[ReferenceOverdosed That's Joyce for you]]. ²** And of course, the word "Wake" has the classic double meaning of a funeral and waking up from sleep, i.e. it can refer to both life and death. This pun is used to similar effect in the titular Irish ballad and fits the constant theme of cycle, resurrection and repitition that is at the heart of the novel. A cycle of constant death and life, or dream and waking up. ²* EvilCounterpart: [[ Magrath]] and his wife [[ Lily]] Kinsella to Earwicker and Anna Livia.²* FootnoteFever: Many scholarly editions of the book. They also appear in the schoolbook chapter (2.2), representing Issy's commentary on the material ([[MindScrew not that it helps the reader much]])²* GenreBusting: To the point where Wiki/TheOtherWiki, which is usually very good at finagling a book into a particular genre, simply gives its genre as ''sui generis''.[[note]]That's "one of a kind" for those unfamiliar with the expression.[[/note]]²* GratuitousForeignLanguage: Joyce would occassionally drop lines in Hindi and Turkish, just because he could. A good example is the non-sequitir: "cha kai rotty kai makkar, sahib" (Tea or bread or butter, mister?).²* GuideDangIt: [[RunningGag A rare non-video game usage of the trope,]] as the richness of references used in ''Finnegans Wake'' need to be listed and referenced in a separate volume. Joseph Campbell's "Skeleton Key" is quite well known, as is James. W. Atherton's ''The Books of the Wake'' which tracks down all the literary references in the books (and numbers to 300 pages just to keep score). ²* HerCodenameWasMarySue: HCE, as noted above; plus a number of the minor characters are based on his acquaintances.²* HurricaneOfPuns:²** Almost '''''every single word of the book''''' is a wordplay of some sort, or part of a wordplay. And Joyce didn't limit the puns to English, either -- by some official estimates, he crammed words from about '''''sixty separate languages''''' into the book, and you would have to know at least ''nine'' different languages other than English (including Latin, Greek, and especially Gaelic) to get half of the jokes.²** There are also paragraphs which pun on a specific theme. One paragraph in the Third Chapter puns on William Makepeace Thackeray and Creator/CharlesDickens, making references to Literature/OurMutualFriend (another book with a theme of resurrection) and '' The Old Curiosity Shop''.²--->''[[Literature/VanityFair Vanity flee and Verity fear]]! Diobell! Whalebones and buskbutts may hurt you (thwackaway thwuck!) but never lay bare your breast secret (dickette's place!) to joy a Jonas in the Dolphin's Barncar with [[Literature/OurMutualFriend your meetual fan]], [[Literature/DavidCopperfield Doveyed Covetfilles]], comepulsing payn-attention spasms between the averthisment for Ulikah's wine and a pair of pulldoors of the old cupiosity shape.'' ²* IHaveManyNames: Most everyone, thanks to the shifting dream-like writing.²* InterruptedByTheEnd: The novel ends in mid-sentence, with the words "''A way a lone a last a loved a long the''" implying that the ''real'' story is just about to begin.²** I.e. recirculation back to the first page, which continues the sentence interrupted on the last page.²* KangarooCourt: the chaotic trial of Festy King.²* LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters: More like loads and loads of ''names.'' There are hundreds of name changes throughout the book, although a popular interpretation is that there is a set number of abstract characters that these names are supposed to represent.²* LongList: Used frequently.²* MindScrew: No shit, Sherlock.²* {{Neologism}}: Among the many words it coined, the one that caught traction is "Quark" which was later used to describe one of the elementary particles.²* NoEnding: Take a look at the first and last 'sentence'.²* ParentalIncest: HCE with his daughter Issy.²* PatterSong: ''The Ballad of Persse O'Reilly''[[note]] from ''perce-oreille'', French for "earwig" [[/note]] has elements of this and WordSaladLyrics.²* PerfectlyCromulentWord: So full of them that you'll reach the same level of comprehension if you tried to achieve osmotic pressure by holding the book in your hands.²* PolarOppositeTwins: Shaun and Shem, although to a far lesser degree this is true of most of the main characters.²* {{Portmanteau}}: Just as an example, the word listed below under WrittenSoundEffect is made up from the words for "thunder" in ten different languages.²* ResetButton: If you notice the [[spoiler:''first'' sentence of the novel and compare it to the ''last,'' you can see that the last one can continue the first sentence, this starting the cycle once again.]]²* RuleOfSymbolism: Extensive, if cryptic, references to Myth/CelticMythology, the Phoenix Park Murders of 1882, the Egyptian Book of the Dead and Myth/EgyptianMythology, among many many others.²* SelfDeprecation: HCE's "[[Literature/{{Ulysses}} usylessly unreadable blue book of Eccles]]"²* ShadowArchetype: Twins Shaun and Shem are each other's shadows; it's also possible that alternate name pairs like "Jerry and Kevin" indicate a higher order of shadowing.²* ShoutOut: ²** Not in, but from the book, we have three. "Quark" was borrowed from here to name the subatomic particle. JosephCampbell also first saw the word "monomyth" in its pages, and Creator/GeorgeRRMartin named a castle in ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'' after the first word, "riverrun".²** The title of the book comes from an [[ Irish ballad]] that can itself be rather hard to understand.²** As is typical of Joyce there are also huge number of references to the whole western literary tradition, from Norse Mythology, to Shakespeare, to Dante onwards. Specific and recurring references include Creator/HenrikIbsen's ''The Master Builder'' (apparent in the section with the Norwegian Sea captain) and Creator/LewisCarroll (Humpty Dumpty and his poem Jabberwocky), as well as Literature/TristramShandy (from the second paragraph -- "Sir Tristram, violer d'amores" -- onwards). ²** Joyce also drops in some movie references (he ''did'' start and run Dublin's first cinema hall). One multilingual extended pun refers to "bilker's dozen of dowdycameraman", the dances of "lewd Buylan" (Berlin cabaret) and "the phylli-sophies of Bussup Bulkeley", a double reference to both Bishop Berkeley, the philosopher and Creator/BusbyBerkeley, the musical choreographer[[note]]The word phylli-sophies, refers to both philosophies and the pun of "filly" used for girl, referring to Busby Berkeley's famously gorgeous chorines[[/note]].²* ShownTheirWork: For a work that is suprisingly imaginative and experimental in style, Joyce nonetheless did a lot of accurate research and background checking. ²** For one thing the opening sentence, rather than the odd non-sequitur that it seems on its surface, describes the general layout of Dublin Bay: the Franciscan Friary, a.k.a. Adam and Eve's Church, is indeed on the River Liffey, and the bay itself is marked on its northern end by Howth Castle and on its southern end by the Vico Road, which starts at the very southernmost promontory of Dublin Bay and goes south from there. Many other scenes refer to actual locations in Dublin, such as a monument to the Duke of Wellington, the actual Phoenix Park and the many other locations referred to there.²** Likewise, Joyce makes countless accurate references and glosses on history of Ireland and Europe, and also the world. The famous "Anna Livia Plurabelle" chapter refers to rivers flowing through cities from across the world, from Aare to Zambezi. There are also many discrete references to the personal life of Jonathan Swift, via his "Journal to Stella" among many others.²* SpeechImpediment: HCE's stutter, usually over his guilt at his sexual indiscretions, is one of his distinguishing characteristics.²* SpookySeance: Shaun (or Yawn) is subjected to one by the Four Masters. They put him to sleep on [[ the Hill of Uisneach]], afflict him with nightmares, and channel the spirit of HCE and his many incarnations through him.²* [[ThoseTwoGuys Those Four Guys]]: the Four Masters/Evangelists, who always travel together, appear to be seeking out HCE and serve as judges in his trial, spy on Tristan and Iseult, and generally try to impose order and fixity on the book.²* InheritedIlliteracyTitle: The lack of an apostrophe is deliberate.²* WorldOfPun: Every sentence.²* WrittenSoundEffect: The ten thunderclaps strewn across the book, the first one being on page one.[[note]]Bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonnerronntuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthurnuk![[/note]]²----


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