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Finnegans Wake

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  11,802 ratings  ·  994 reviews

Having done the longest day in literature with his monumental Ulysses, James Joyce set himself even greater challenges for his next book — the night."A nocturnal state...That is what I want to convey: what goes on in a dream, during a dream." The work, which would exhaust two decades of his life and the odd resources of some sixty languages, culminated in the 1939 publica
Paperback, 628 pages
Published December 1st 1999 by Penguin Classics (first published May 4th 1939)
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Kiraspectrum I found it funny and dense and horribly difficult to get. All at the same time. It was fun, I didn't read all of it, but wherever I opened the page, I…moreI found it funny and dense and horribly difficult to get. All at the same time. It was fun, I didn't read all of it, but wherever I opened the page, I always found an allusion to something that made sense to me.(less)
Finnius No. It IS a tough read 'tho.
The comic was funny. Thanks for the link.…more
No. It IS a tough read 'tho.
The comic was funny. Thanks for the link.(less)

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Average rating 3.67  · 
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 ·  11,802 ratings  ·  994 reviews

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MJ Nicholls
Let me explain the five-star rating. When I was teenager I was ludicrously shy. I was the son and heir of a shyness that was criminally vulgar. My all-conquering shyness kept Morrissey in gold-plated ormolu swans for eight years. Any contact with human beings made me mumble in horror and scuttle off to lurk in dark corners. But I developed this automatic writing technique in school to ease my mounting stress whenever teachers were poaching victims to answer questions, perform presentations or ge ...more
Finnegans Wake is Joyce’s masterpiece, the culmination of his life’s work, the apex of his art, the tremendous final achievement of the 20th century’s greatest prose stylist. To ignore Joyce’s masterpiece is to miss out on one of a handful of great events in literary history. Dubliners anticipated A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, A Portrait of the Artist… anticipated Ulysses, Ulysses anticipated Finnegans Wake. Joyce’s individual works are particularly momentous set side by side, as the ...more
The Slalom of Joyledge

Howto scaledown this Beschova finntail
This filletov beginnings that sings of all endings,
This pest of a pal in jest
And bad cess to you, Joyking
For the reeding is tufftuff
But the prize is the laffing
Tho low in the belly
It sores with the learning
Of finnglish and jinglish
Pigeon linguish and djoytisch

Ten stories tall
And twenty the deepings
Some to the writeoff
And Moore to the leftings
Finn’s houseful of hawsers
And hods and their spilling
Give Humpty his tallwall
And role in all f
Sean Barrs
I take no shame in admitting that I cannot read this book. I was defeated after three paragraphs:

"What clashes here of wills gen wonts, oystrygods gaggin fishy-gods! Brékkek Kékkek Kékkek Kékkek! Kóax Kóax Kóax! Ualu Ualu Ualu! Quaouauh! Where the Baddelaries partisans are still out to mathmaster Malachus Micgranes and the Verdons cata-pelting the camibalistics out of the Whoyteboyce of Hoodie Head. Assiegates and boomeringstroms. Sod’s brood, be me fear! Sanglorians, save! Arms apeal with larms
"Wipe your glosses with what you know."


I tend never to retread the same book twice. I finish a novel or a book, digest it, then move on. Having just finished 'Finnegans Wake' I'm not sure that approach is even possible. This is a book that is simply impossible to really finish. Yes, I read from the beginning to end. Yes, I listened to it while reading. Yes, I spoke sentences out loud. Yes, I shouted words. Yes, I underlined phrases that tickled and rhymes that ringed. But, I feel like I've scra
Apr 22, 2010 rated it did not like it
The other day we saw The Ghost, the rather fine new movie by Polanski. Ewan McGregor plays a ghostwriter, who's been brought in to fix up the memoirs of a British ex-Prime Minister who absolutely isn't Tony Blair. He's given the manuscript, and groans in pain.

"That bad?" asks the woman who isn't Cherie Blair.

"Well it's got all the words," says McGregor. "They're just not in the right order."

This suggested to me the following simple experiment with Finnegans Wake, one of the greatest etc etc in t
Kelly McCubbin
Nov 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
The easiest book in the world... seriously. With scholars unable to ever reach consensus on what the book is or how it should be read or even if it actually has value, you can simply ignore them. Your opinions are just as valid. Add to this the wads of cultural ephemera that Joyce has packed the book with and you find yourself in the rare position to occasionally be BETTER qualified to interpret parts of the text than academics.
Try this, get some friends together, pop the cork on a few bottles o
Nicholas Karpuk
Mar 29, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: surrendered
This is not a fair score, I'll admit it right up front. This book affirms my reasoning for reading the first few pages of a book before buying it. This I bought because I've been trying to read more classics, but my experience has shown me that classics shouldn't be exempted from the first few page practice.

Here's the second paragraph of the book:

"Sir Tristram, violer d'amores, fr'over the short sea, had passen-core rearrived from North Armorica on this side the scraggy isthmus of Europe Minor t
Jan 17, 2021 marked it as not-finished  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Luís by: Nocturnalux
Well, let's be honest. I'll try not to hurt susceptibilities.

Did you like Joyce's Ulysses? Do you want more? So get around Finnegans Wake!

The object defies all summary; I renounce it. Suffice it to say that the work is deemed untranslatable, even illegible. Of course, we do not ask that of the genius, but it is clear that Joyce does not condescend to leave the empyrean to put himself a little at our level. The burlesque and iconoclastic puns tearing away a thin smile, the obscure references to l
K.D. Absolutely
Oct 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2012)
Looks daunting, unintelligible and incomprehensible at first. However, read it aloud and with open mind and the meaning might come down on you. I said "might" because no matter how much thinking I put on some of the paragraphs or lines, some meanings seemed so obscure and I had no choice but to let them stay that way.

Still I found this book amazing. It is one of its kind. What amazed me really was its play of words. Unmatched. Never seen before. Close to it so far is Anthony Burgess's Clockwork
It is not possible to write a review for Finnegan’s Wake like I normally write my reviews. Instead, I will do a list of bullet point thoughts I had along the way and after finishing.

- First, I can already tell this is one of those books that some are going to be really into for its classic cultural impact and relevancy. Because of this, my two stars might “offend” or cause some to reply “you just don’t get it!”. Well, that’s true . . . I didn’t get it and I don’t mean to irritate fans of the boo
Mark André
Oct 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays
Only after you have read Dubliners & Portrait & Ulysses a half a dozen times each, and your mind still demands more Joyce, are you ready to read Finnegans Wake.
Paul Bryant
Apr 24, 2010 marked it as probably-never  ·  review of another edition
Stealing an idea from Manny's review, here's part of the (British) Highway Code if it was written by James Joyce any time during the last 17 years of his life. This is the section called


Swarn and inform other roadusers aminxt that nombre of evelings, including pedestrigirls and jumbleboys (see 'and twinglings of twitchbells in rondel’ section twoozle para fleeph), of your inbended actions. You should have a kelchy chose and clayblade and at all times make prayses to the three of clu
Ian "Marvin" Graye
Prelured to a Nocturnal Pleasure

"It isn't a matter of submitting uncritically to a difficult work; it's about trusting that the artist knows what he/she is doing, even if you don't apprehend it right away. Just keep reading: even the most difficult novel will eventually make some sense, and if you realise you've missed things, you can always go back for a second try if still curious...some people like a challenge...some people are open to new, initially puzzling experiences...": Steven Moore

Everybody knows the plot of Finnegans Wake. Rich, old man Finnegan has died, leaving behind no will and no direct heirs. A riotous comedy of errors ensues at his wake (an open-casket affair), where his extended family and business associates (a collection of colourful, conniving characters to say the least), vie for supremacy, each one plotting and scheming to inherit Finnegan’s vast business empire and considerable real estate portfolio, which features amongst numerous holdings the grand and op ...more
Leo Robertson
Why you will read Finnegans Wake:

The short of it is this: have a think about all your greatest achievements, the accomplishments you’re most proud of. What they have in common is hard work and originality. Read Finnegans Wake. Fine, you know what? If you’re even in this review for the short term, chances are you won’t read it. If anyone’s still interested, please let me convince you further.

Michael Chabon, Pulitzer-prize winning author, wrote a big article for The New York Review of Books on why
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Was bin you? ::
Ein luger ; faelscher ; Father of ; flibber flabber ; Miss MacLeader ; desimulate ; hazug ; trick a her stir ; leogere ; false wit ; phonitical ; cheet a puma ; con ; equal vadar ; story hearer ; promotorcross ; mensoganto ; rascal ; hṛṣi ; hyper cryter ; Hair Pseudo ; mwongo ; path and logical ; dish o nest and storter ; libel and label ; not a squarestraight shooter ; counterfèting ; defamé ; calumniacator ; ;

Porce? Vava Varoom? Howso? ::
I say I confirm I assert I am truthtosa
Manuel Antão
Aug 18, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1995
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Causabon's Key To All Mythologies with Guinness and Opera: “Finnegans Wake” by James Joyce

"We'll meet again, we'll part once more. The spot I'll seek if the hour you'll find. My chart shines high where the blue milk's upset."

In “Finnegans Wake” by James Joyce

Joyce could really write. “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” is exquisite, and “Ulysses” is a masterpiece. I see Joyce as a product of his 'modernist' era, certainly, but a si
Update, 2021:
OK guys, gals, and others.
I'm repenting, a bit. What is written below is the representation of my head from bygone days. It's an amusing rant, and maybe I still feel marginally the same as those ways stated therein. At the same time, I am open to the challenge of the toughies of the canon. I may yet attempt a completion of this. Some people have nudge-nudged me along a bit on the virtues of modernism/post-modernism, and one of those people is myself, having engaged some taunting and
Oct 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Curious Types, Mystics, Academics, Small Children, People w/Psychosis, Students, and Drug Addicts
Shelves: favorites, modernist
Many people find this book perplexing, but I find it’s something like a magic hat crossed with a hall of mirrors. You can pull almost anything out of it, but usually you'll get a twisted reflection of your own ideas, obsessions, or hidden fantasies. Perhaps that's the cause for perplexion, but I think its good to dig all that stuff up.
I love this book for its tangled etymologies, and the way these pieces of words delve so deeply into a common mystical, lingual history that spans nations and cul
Dec 20, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A sort of triumph, a sort of failure.

It's impossible to rate, really, but it's not remotely like anything else in English literature so in that way it's certainly impressive.

On one hand it's outrageously pretentious. But even if you want to hate it, there's no denying you can get enormous enjoyment from going through some of the passages here. A sentence can be read in as much detail as some entire books. You can reread the whole thing and it'll be completely different. Some bits are very funny,
Jun 17, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: post-modernism, yuck
In What Is Art? Tolstoy unleashes criticism on all things artistic, sparing no one. His main argument is that art--whether literature, paintings, music, or drama--should be accessible to everyone. He says anything that the common man cannot understand or that does not represent the common man is actually a form of war on the common man. All art must teach; all art must be accessible; all art must tell the common man's story. Else, it is not art but an elitist manipulation--a dangerous one, at th ...more
88th book of 2020.

My previous review of this was jejune, and I’ve wanted to write something more formal ever since. I’ve realised recently that even in my long-winded reviews of books I either love or hate, I’m never really telling the truth. I find review writing difficult because it is superficial; it is only one distilled moment of insight into a novel. I’ve written very warm reviews for books that are not very good novels and I’ve attacked books that are, really, very good novels. This both
May 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Our Wake Reading Group, which is full of all sorts of helpful odds 'n sods:

Ay Hell[p]-full Qwroat from Jamesy

"[A]nyone who reads the history of the three centuries that precede the coming of the English must have a strong stomach, because the internecine strife, and the conflicts with the Danes and the Norwegians, the black foreigners and the white foreigners, as they were called, follow each other so continuously and ferociously that they make this en
Did I finish reading The Restored Finnegans Wake? Nope. I read this one. Am I going to finish The Restored Finnegans Wake? Yep. I pick up the Wake at odd moments invisibly lapsing between other moments, and flip to random pages, and one would be surprised how detailed one's recollections can be of specific passages within this vortext. This thing only grows and expands and whirls about its own gyre, creating itself always while I look away, for weeks at a time it sits there generating itself sil ...more
David Lentz
Jun 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
"Tim Finnegan’s Wake"
by David B. Lentz

When God reeled in good auld Tim Finnegan,
And looked into his green Irish peepers,
Said He, “Now, what was I thinkin’?
Poor lad, he ain’t one of the keepers.”

To hell Tim descended without any fear,
To the devil, whom not much is lost on,
Said he, “I’m sure you’ll be comfortable here,
Among all your old friends from South Boston.”

Tim’s jokes night and day caused Satan to swear,
As migraines crept behind blood red eyelids,
“An eternity with you is just too much
Ed Smiley
Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.
Sir Francis Bacon (1561 - 1626)

Fifth time through! The date is set to the date I read the final word "the". This was in a "slow read" book club.

This is my favorite book of all time. Admittedly it is challenging, but what it does is simply unique in all o
Steven Godin
May 10, 2021 rated it did not like it

I came, I saw, I conquered!

I huffed, I puffed, I quit.

How I even managed to get to 200 pages I will never know. Might treat myself to a cream horn or two just for getting that far!
Arthur Graham
May 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Love it or hate it, Joyce as genius/jackass, all of the standard divisions... I just give credit where credit's due.

Books are meant to be read. Here is a book that is essentially unreadable, but not for the usual reasons. One could easily imagine a more linear, less obfuscatory retelling of the same basic story after all, but would it be a better book? Somehow I seriously doubt it.
Nick Black
Major life admission: I've never actually finished this book. Let me explain.

I first came across Joyce in the spring of 1996. When "Araby" was assigned for an evening's BritLit homework, I was fifteen and still playing Final Fantasy Legend on my Gameboy from that Christmas ; up until that MARTA ride home, The Catcher in the Rye had seemed the most meaningful and personally evocative thing around. The last line almost blinded me:

Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and de
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Goodreads Librari...: Done A cover for Finnegans Wake, please ! 3 19 Oct 07, 2019 04:17AM  
Catching up on Cl...: Finnegans Wake 43 82 May 23, 2017 10:04AM  
Bottom's Dream: Finnegans Wake 3 55 Sep 10, 2016 06:21AM  
Finnegans Wake Gr...: p78 - lethelulled 5 37 Aug 30, 2016 09:24AM  
Restored Finnegans Wake 4 84 Jun 01, 2016 09:34AM  
Lots of Hate on Finnegans Wake! 13 235 May 28, 2016 07:04PM  
Looking for experimental/post-modern/avant garde books... 7 46 Feb 24, 2016 06:52PM  

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James Joyce, Irish novelist, noted for his experimental use of language in such works as Ulysses (1922) and Finnegans Wake (1939). Joyce's technical innovations in the art of the novel include an extensive use of interior monologue; he used a complex network of symbolic parallels drawn from the mythology, history, and literature, and created a unique language of invented words, puns, and allusions ...more

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