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Joyce's Book of the Dark: Finnegans Wake

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  107 Ratings  ·  13 Reviews
Joyce’s Book of the Dark gives us such a blend of exciting intelligence and impressive erudition that it will surely become established as one of the most fascinating and readable Finnegans Wake studies now available.”—Margot Norris, James Joyce Literary Supplement
Paperback, 496 pages
Published June 15th 1993 by University of Wisconsin Press (first published 1986)
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Michael Finocchiaro
Incredibly erudite, Bishop's reading of Finnegans Wake is itself quite an undertaking. In his quest to demonstrate some of the primary currents that flow through Joyce's most inaccessible masterpiece (which I am still crawling though page by page), Bishop touches on such themes as: the body of the dreamer as both a geography (Ireland and Europe in the 30s) and a dreamography with fascinating illustrations), the ideas Joyce gleaned from Vico's The New Science and the Egyptian Book(s) of the Dead, ...more
Jan 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Being that this non-review has garnered a few newer "likes", owing to the increased interest shown around GR for FW in general, I feel I ought to amend it so that it reflects things as they stand now, June 4, 2014. I have completed a first thorough reading of Finnegans Wake, so that contradicts immediately the first sentence in the original review below. Much has changed about the sentence in parentheses also, as at present I couldn't give a shit less about anything approaching a "somewhat norma ...more
Ed Smiley
This is by far the best treatment of Finnegans Wake I have ever read. I am very thankful for a dear friend for sending me a copy!

Finnegans Wake is not for everyone (even though it is about everyone), and therefore a book of literary criticism about what is arguably the most difficult book ever written is not for everybody too.

So, yeah, this review is for those people, and maybe the insatiably curious seeking literary curios. So before I review it, let me lay my cards on the table. I'm not a prof
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
What is it like? Reading John Bishop’s Joyce’s Book of the Dark is like reading Finnegans Wake with that table round of old men reading one page together per week for seven years and at the end of that seven years rearriving to begin again to finnagain to funagain.

In aurther words, this is not a dry academic thang that kills the text in the name of knight=mastery, but this is reading with an old man who has become A Child Again because as A Child Again one learns to read again and to read prope
Barnaby Thieme
Apr 23, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: literature, criticism
I tried to like this book, and there are bits that I found quite valuable, but on the whole I have to conclude it's untenable. I have two primary objections, one interpretive and the other stylistic.

First and foremost, I reject the book's central interpretation, which I would describe as a strong reading of the dream hypothesis. That is, in Bishop's view this is ultimately and absolutely a book about HCE, who lies asleep in his inn and restlessly recreates various dynamics and events from his l
Jul 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Reading Finnegans Wake is--and probably should be--a daunting task. The classic advice on the subject, read anything aloud that you do not understand, can only take us so far when we don't have the same incredible mastery of languages and ideas that Joyce posessed. Of all the books that I consulted during my own journeys through Finnegans Wake, Joyce's Book of the Dark is by far the best at shedding light on the subject while being in its own way a worthwhile read. This is more than a collection ...more
Oct 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Since I haven't yet tackled Finnegan's Wake (recently), I'm going to hold off on the five star rating until I've read it and know how useful this text really was.

That said--Bishop works with broad themes that present themselves throughout the text, rather than doing a linear "translation" of Joyce's enigmatic book. Having some familiarity with Finnegan's Wake already helped to me understand where he was going with most of his ideas; now I'll see if that's reciprocal.
Michael Nelson
Jun 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Greatest book on the Wake (yes yes, I've not read them all, but I find it highly unlikely that another one as good as this will come along). Finally, a book which provides a guide to *enjoying* Joyce's second masterpiece, as opposed to uncovering the meaning of everything word-by-word. Now I love to do that too, but people need to know that this book is to be, first and foremost, enjoyed.
J.W.D. Nicolello
May 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The fact that I never owned this book baffles me now even more than it did the first time I picked this up, while experiencing Finnegans Wake. I spent a long afternoon with this one at the library today, and will return to spend a couple more hours with it tomorrow. When I am not dead broke and practically starving to death, definitely going to purchase.
Derek Martin
Mar 19, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: People reading Finnegans Wake
I picked this one up from the library, but only got about 1/4 the way through it before I had to hand it back in. It hadn't yet unlocked much of the meaning of FW yet, but it did demonstrate how particular themes, such as HCE the sleeping giant, keep recurring and getting referenced again and again throughout the book. I plan to pick it up again later and finish it.
Josh Brown
Feb 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
There's so much here, a proper review would require a chapter-length disquisition. I'll just include one comment: this book's greatest success is in establishing a direct connection between Finnegans Wake and that ever-so-trendy theoretical construct "the body." It firmly establishes that the book is best read as a representation of a body sleeping. My only real quarrel with that is that at times. Bishop wants to say it is only that. That doesn't seem right. Yes - there are many entry points int ...more
Paul Nagy
Apr 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A decidedly twigs on the limbs of individual trees in the thick forest of the Wake. Helpful and dull as it shows how to unpack some few levels of this circler multidimensional dream of civilization yessing life.
Dec 25, 2015 rated it liked it
engaged w/ it here:
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Finnegans Wake Gr...: Joyce's Book of the Dark 25 32 Aug 30, 2016 06:03PM  
  • A Reader's Guide to Finnegans Wake
  • Annotations to  Finnegans Wake
  • A Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake: James Joyce's Masterwork Revealed
  • Re Joyce
  • Occasional, Critical, and Political Writing
  • The New Bloomsday Book: A Guide Through Ulysses
  • James Joyce
  • We'll to the Woods No More
  • Ulysses Annotated
  • Lucia Joyce: To Dance in the Wake
  • Surfing on Finnegans Wake & Riding Range with Marshall McLuhan
  • The Pound Era
  • The Aesthetics of Chaosmos: The Middle Ages of James Joyce
  • Philology: The Forgotten Origins of the Modern Humanities
  • Lectures on Shakespeare
  • Pack My Bag: A Self-Portrait
  • The Friday Book
  • Apology for Raymond Sebond

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“tropped head” 2 likes
“Sooner rather than later, a reader of Finnegans Wake would do well to justify to himself its stupefying obscurity; for as even its most seasoned readers know, "Finnegans Wake is wilfully obscure. It was conceived as obscurity, it was executed as obscurity, it is about obscurity.” 0 likes
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