Saturday, January 12, 2013

What is Finnegans Wake?

This could easily end up being a regular series. From the intro to Finn Fordham's book Lots of Fun at Finnegans Wake: Unraveling Universals comes this massive collage (mimicking the Wake's penchant for long lists) of the various ways Joyce's masterpiece has been described, both by critics and commentators and even by the book itself. Finnegans Wake is...

a sleep-story; the dreamlike saga of guilt-stained, evolving humanity; a protracted nightmare; a mighty allegory of the fall and resurrection of mankind; a gigantic epiphany of mankind; an ark to contain all human myths and types; a chaosmos of Alle; a polyhedron of scripture; a meanderthalltale; this nonday diary, this allnight's newseryreel; one of the boldest books ever written; one of the most entertaining books ever written; one of the greatest works of twentieth-century architecture; nothing short of divine vision or a new cure for the clapp can be worth all [its] circumambient peripherization; enormous, mad, unreadable; a cold pudding of a book; a Wholesale Safety Pun factory; a dull mass of phony folklore; a divertissement philologique; literatured with ... once current puns, quashed quotatoes, messes of mottage; an Irish word ballet; like a little Negro dance; music; a collideorscape; a macroscope; a last judgment and genial proclamation of doom; a monstrous prophecy; a history of the future; a tragi-comedy; funeral and funferall; made out of nothing; a paroxysm of wroughtness; Wimmegame's Fake; a big long wide high deep dense prosework; an encyclopedia of mythology; a postmodern encyclopedia ... a parody of the eleventh Brittanica; unprecedented; seen distantly and from without, like a darkened powerhouse on the skyline; a wheel...and it's all square!; a flying machine; a time machine; a hypermnesiac machine; a cybernetic history machine; a simulacrum of the machinery of God's creation; a millwheeling vicociclometer; the most profoundly antifascist book produced between the two wars; an engagement with the very matter of our being; a war on language; a wonderful game; most.

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