Summer of the Wake discussion

Week 1 (pp. 1-30)

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message 1: by Aroon (new)

Aroon | 30 comments Mod
And we're off...

message 2: by Jack (new)

Jack | 11 comments I spent today just going over the first few pages to try to get my head back into Wakespace. The most useful outcome of this was I remembered the approach that worked best for me last time I attempted to climb this mountain: to read through once without making any attempt to decipher, spot references, analyse etc. but just to try to get a feel for the words and the rhythm and a very broad sense of what's going on. Then I re-read but this time pausing over some of the more difficult bits to see if I could penetrate them more deeply. I made some notes of the parts that seemed wholly obscure.

I did this with the first seven pages and... it went okay. I think.

message 3: by Jack (new)

Jack | 11 comments Has someone linked this, by the way? Very interesting, it is.

message 4: by Catherine (new)

Catherine (metafiltersbrwife) | 31 comments I read going back and forth between text and to couple of the helpful annotation web sites linked by others, and occasionally returning afterward to reread a paragraph I'd just deciphered. This is a challenging, funny, unexpected, and ribald book so far, with unexpected glimpses of Joyce's time and environs, and occasional deep drops into myth and history. No way I'd be doing this without all of you.

message 5: by Donna (new)

Donna Ekart (dfekart) | 3 comments I'm going with let the words flow past me, the reread again the same way. That has always worked for me in the past with stream of conscious-y or poetry-like texts. Wake is way more complex but I'm still hopeful some part of my brain will grasp it and settle in.

message 6: by Donna (new)

Donna Ekart (dfekart) | 3 comments Oh also my edition has different pagination, so if someone would kindly tell me what the last words on your page 30 are, I'll figure out the correspondence from there.

message 7: by Jack (new)

Jack | 11 comments I'm using the Wordsworth. Page 30 (which is page 28 of the actual text - it starts on page 3) is the start of Chapter 2.

message 8: by Aroon (last edited Jun 02, 2013 11:05AM) (new)

Aroon | 30 comments Mod
"Chapter 1 (pages 1-29) is a place where Joyce presents - or, to be accurate, offers - themes and characters, both mistaken by the innocent reader who, to take what is offered, must reread the chapter after reading the book." - says Tindall. (So don't be too worried, I guess. The main characters haven't been properly introduced yet, and we're thrown into a divine/mythological age with a huge amount of information present without a whole lot of context. But we do get a fun retelling of Finnegan's Wake.)

Myth, history and religion all seem soaked in a huge amount of drunken ribaldry - sacred & profane:

(FW 4:20) - alcohol, sex, farce, and religion mixed - "guenneses had met their exodus" - Guinness/Genesis, exit/exodus, Finnegan is peeing in the tub?; pentschanjeuchy - pentateuch, Punch & Judy, Jean-Jeudi (french, penis), panschen (water & wine)

3rd grade me likes "take up your partner" / "tuck up your part in her"

(FW 5:15) "earwitness to the thunder of his arafatas" - Mt. Arafat, Our Fathers, Vico's thunder, 'thunder of his farts'

Lots of Islamic imagery on p. 5

message 9: by Bibi (last edited Jun 02, 2013 11:56AM) (new)

Bibi Rose | 6 comments Lots of creation and foundation myths. I find myself catching a lot of hints or impressions that seem sort of half plausible--on p. 14, does Puropeus (purus + penis?) Pius recall not only Priapus, one of several Popes, but also Tarquinius Superbus who ravished Lucretia? I think no, that last one cannot be-- but then further down the same page I see the Liber Lividus. Tarquin the Proud appears in the early books of Livy, so maybe?

Also love the frequent references to textuality. Meades and Porsons (textual critics, p.18); "the copyist must have fled with his scroll," 14.

message 10: by Bibi (new)

Bibi Rose | 6 comments Wonderful linguistic print-through in "the fumes and the hopes and the strupithump." Same rhythm as "fumum et opes strepitumque Romae." "Hopes" is wonderful for "opes" and the kind of felicitious (mis)translation someone might make by accident. "Strumpithump" too sounds almost like an accident or a Freudian slip combining strumpet + hump.

message 11: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Nash | 14 comments I was thinking this morning about how can we ever know what specific references Joyce was intending in some of these words, and really does it even matter?

I was reading a bit of Joseph Campbell's "Mythic Worlds, Modern Words," a collection of his lectures about myth in Joyce's works. In going through the details of the first couple of paragraphs, he got to the phrase "doublin their mumper all the time" and Campbell says something about "mum" is a word for a kind of beer first brewed in Germany in 1492 - the year being a relation to America, which is also referred to in that sentence. There was just something about this association with this beer (which a bit of Googling suggests is a real thing, from Brunswick) seemed so random to me, like how would Joyce have known this and why in the world would he have referred to it here in the second paragraph of this book?

Even if that particular example WAS intentional there on Joyce's part, I think it's an interesting point that it's highly probably readers and scholars could perceive references he *didn't* intend. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? To the extent this whole book is meant to be a dreamlike distillation of human history in general, it's a fine thing. But on another hand I think it could easily suggest dead ends and blind alleys of allusions - if you start questioning "why this particular reference in this particular place" what if there's no answer to that question?

message 12: by Catherine (new)

Catherine (metafiltersbrwife) | 31 comments Joyce left plenty of info on what he meant.

message 13: by Bibi (new)

Bibi Rose | 6 comments "But on another hand I think it could easily suggest dead ends and blind alleys of allusions - if you start questioning "why this particular reference in this particular place" what if there's no answer to that question?"

In some ways this reminds me of reading something like the Iliad, which came together over a long period of time. If you explore all the linguistic associations of a word or phrase in Homeric literature, some seem to resonate within the passage at hand and some don't. Some appear to be almost fossilized and make no sense within the passage. Some you only know about through comparative grammar research, and the individual poet/singer was surely not aware of them, even if their meaning does seem to be reflected in the passage.

With Joyce, it's an individual writing, yet I still get the feeling sometimes that what I am reading has been composed by something larger than that human being. It's as if I am floating along and allusions pop to the surface for me kind of randomly (based on what I as a reader already know) and I feel there must be much more below. Or a phrase will explode with possible meanings.

But I think you are right about dead ends and blind alleys. There has to be a balance between appreciating references and getting so bogged down that you can't move forward. I'm trying to read now without looking at McHugh's Annotations too often and get more of a sense of the plot. And the humor. In this weeks's reading, the Museyroom and Mutt and Jute got me to laugh and stop chasing down allusions so much, or to let them work on the surface.

Mind your hats goan in: birth?
Mind your boots goan out: death?

message 14: by Jack (new)

Jack | 11 comments Wow, I'm struggling today. This is not a book to wrestle with when tired. I was doing okay with the wander through the museum (museyroom) yesterday but my first reading of the pages that follow has me scratching my head. It's not just the language, it's trying to get a handle on who the hell he's talking about at any given time.

"We nowhere she lives but you mussna tell annaone..."... and all that follows, making numerous references to "her" and "she".


message 15: by Aroon (new)

Aroon | 30 comments Mod
Judging from the "annaone" in that sentence, the "she" would be ALP, who is the main "she" of this book. Anna Livia Plurabelle. Anna is also all women throughout the ages, the great mother archetype and wife and flowing river. Another "she" is Isabel or Issy, the daughter who replaces ALP as she grows up. We're not introduced to these characters formally in Chapter 1, so it's a bit rough going at the moment. The good news is there aren't that many characters in the book - or there are, but they're all configurations of the same 5 or so overarching characters.

Look out for the initials ALP hidden in the text for signs that Anna is present. Other characters are HCE (H.C. Earwicker, or Here Comes Everybody), and his sons Shem and Shaun (or Mutt and Jute, or any of a number of opposed pairs throughout the book)

message 16: by Jack (new)

Jack | 11 comments Ah, thanks for that. I was working on the assumption that it was probably ALP but I didn't make the "annaone" connection. Like I said... this is not easy when tired. :-)

message 17: by Roisin (new)

Roisin O'connor | 9 comments My delivery was delayed so I'm reading a free ebook which doesn't have page numbers (its just one long page.) So i have no idea where I've read to, but that somehow feels fitting!
I'm letting the words wash over me at this point, especially as I have no guide yet. But I'm in love!!

It's making me very nostalgic, as some of the words and rhythmn are reminding me of my rural grandparents' speech. So craythur for creature (usually about a person "he lost his wife, poor craythur"), harse for horse, childher for children. I think being Irish will make some of it a but easier to decipher. Possibly...

Also the bit about - Mr Finn, you'll be Mister Finnagain!
reminded me of a song we sang in school.

There was an old man called Michael Finnegan
He grew whiskers on his chinnegan
The wind came out and blew them in again
Poor old Michael Finnegan, begin again

It goes on forever but you sing the last words of the last line so they run into each other and go straight to the next verse: poor old Michael FinneganbeginagainThere was an old man...

Which is reminiscent of the book starting and ending in the same place which pleased me, and also reminded me of being 10 :)

message 18: by Bibi (new)

Bibi Rose | 6 comments "Poor old Michael Finnegan, begin again..."

I love that!

None of my grandparents are Irish but I get powerful feelings of nostalgia a lot while reading this book, without really being able to say why.

message 19: by Aroon (new)

Aroon | 30 comments Mod
I was thinking this morning about how can we ever know what specific references Joyce was intending in some of these words, and really does it even matter?

I agree the "mum = German beer brewed in 1492 = America" sounds too far-fetched to pay much attention to. Especially since mumpers=beggars + Dublin,GA + "doubling their numbers" is more than enough to work with. It certainly wouldn't surprise me if every FW scholar has had his share of theories and references that don't quite pan out. I've already seen a bunch, and can't blame anyone for it.

By and large, though, it seems like Joyce is illuminating the text and throwing all kinds of fascinating shadows against the wall. Eureka moments on every page. We just probably shouldn't get too carried away finding connections where none exist.

message 20: by Aroon (new)

Aroon | 30 comments Mod
How're we doing? :) I'm kinda interested in thoughts on the Museyroom, and Mutt & Jute. They strike me as the funnest and most rewarding sections so far. I was taught the Museyroom section way back in a high school English class, and it was amazing how much the class picked up from that group reading/puzzling session.

message 21: by Catherine (last edited Jun 05, 2013 08:12PM) (new)

Catherine (metafiltersbrwife) | 31 comments I loved both passages. But the word play and puns also wear me out. I feel as though each page is a game of five dimensional chess.

message 22: by Carol (new)

Carol (clerner2) | 15 comments I agree, the puns are delightful but exhausting. Like visiting a non-English speaking country, I am hoping to start to work through the language as I am more fully immersed. I keep recalling that Joyce spoke something like 5 languages, so inventing a new one must not have seemed so daunting to him. And it makes me want to do the same. It's sofa king treemendelssonorous!

message 23: by Jeffrey (last edited Jun 06, 2013 05:43AM) (new)

Jeffrey Sutter (lathrop) | 4 comments sofa king treemendelssonorous<--- trimendolicious!

message 24: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Nash | 14 comments I'm a little behind, because I've been dealing with having my wisdom teeth removed on Tuesday. I may try some reading today - we'll find out if reading it on Vicodin helps or not! LOL.

message 25: by Roisin (new)

Roisin O'connor | 9 comments I'd imagine it would help a lot :)

message 26: by Bibi (new)

Bibi Rose | 6 comments I read the Museyroom section out loud with my partner to see if it was as funny to them as it was to me. Yes, it was.

I see the word "Tip" which Kate keeps saying is explained by Campbell as the sound of a branch knocking against HCE's window while he dreams. The section does have the feeling of being led through a dream museum by a brash but somewhat confused guide.

message 27: by John (new)

John (mountmccabe) | 3 comments The text is really amusing when read aloud and fascinating at all times but I am having a hard time discerning why all this wordplay is here as well as what the plot is or anything about the characters.

I am reading the various summaries/commentaries (and all the comments here!) that try to clear things up but they tend to be either too fine (references for every word are great but this doesn't really illuminate anything) or too coarse.

I do realize it is early on and that I will get more used to how the novel works but right now I feel nothing other than momentary delight at some passages. Though I just reached the Fall (pg 21) and actually knew what he was talking about so on I go.

message 28: by Catherine (new)

Catherine (metafiltersbrwife) | 31 comments I'm with John that the plot and characters remain mostly a mystery to me. It took at least the first five pages to realize that one thing that is going on is that we are all attending Finnegan's wake. Again, though, I am dimly perceiving that there are layered plots here, including apparently a biblical history, an actual Irish/European history, some Egyptian mythic history, and a history of Finnegan's drunken escapades with woman and outhouses.

message 29: by Roisin (new)

Roisin O'connor | 9 comments My books finally arrived - yay! - so I'm going back to the start.
In a way it's been kind of freeing not to have had a clue what's happening for the most part. It's been a nice little lesson in tolerating the not knowing, and just letting the words wash over me. It'll be interesting now to do it "properly".

message 30: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Nash | 14 comments Catherine wrote: It took at least the first five pages to realize that one thing that is going on is that we are all attending Finnegan's wake..."

Right, and on page 24 Finnegan starts to wake up, like in the song. "Anam muck an dhoul! Did ye drink me doornail?"

But if Finnegan wakes up then the party's over, the dream is over, the world ends. So the party-goers, which I guess is us, tell him to go back to sleep. "Now be aisy, good Mr Finnimore, sir. And take your laysure like a god on pension and don't be walking abroad."

(I love that phrase - "take your laysure like a god on pension.")

message 31: by Carol (new)

Carol (clerner2) | 15 comments Agree with previous comments...plot is generally out the window for me. But now and again there is a snippet, often prompted by Skeleton Key, the helps me figure out what is going on (at least in that moment). I highlighted these clues and then reread the first chapter, and that really helped bring it together.

message 32: by Siri (new)

Siri | 2 comments It is hard for me to read this without wandering off on a tangential chase...example: "And the lipoleums is gonn boycottoncrezy onto the one Willingdone." Boycott + boycrazy + Boy Cotton, aka Edward Jones, the 12-year-old who had a penchant for sneaking into Buckingham Palace and once stole the Queen's knickers...wha? Tell me more about that guy!

message 33: by Danilax (new)

Danilax | 1 comments I chose to go into this book without knowing anything about it. I'd heard of the title but couldn't have told you who wrote it. I didn't know the book would be so odd so when I started reading it I was shocked and highly amused. At this point I still don't really know what's going on although I have picked up on at least a couple of the characters and the museyroom section was great. I can't read this if I'm not reading it out loud in a terrible Irish brogue.

message 34: by Jaakko (new)

Jaakko | 2 comments I’ve been reading the book with only using the FW Wiki as a reference a couple of times and I’m finding it quite difficult to follow the action so far. There have been couple of sections where I have been able get some idea what is going on, so hopefully this gets better.

Following the discussion here after reading the text on my own has been quite helpfull in putting some of the action in context.

However, I am enjoying the language and finding myself reading several sections aloud (which I hardly ever do). Being a native Finnish speaker I’ve noticed that there have been several places where the text seems to read more like Finnish than English. If I pronounce the text the way I would Finnish, then it sounds like perfectly good English.

message 35: by Catherine (new)

Catherine (metafiltersbrwife) | 31 comments There is a lot of Dutch -- is that related at all to Finnish?

message 36: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Nash | 14 comments I think chapter 1 is mainly about laying a foundation for the pattern that the rest of the book will play out You get this more from one of the summary books like Skeleton Key, than just from the wiki that only parses the language.

I think the main thing that "happens" in chapter 1 is Finnegan "falls" and everyone holds a wake for him. This is like the "fall" in Eden - the initial thing that becomes the basis for the world we live in, in a way. The world is Finnegan's dream - if he wakes up (as he starts to) then everything ends. (Campbell compares this to the Hindu god Vishnu, who dreams the universe.)

Then on top of that we have some recurring patterns, starting with a family.

HCE - the father
ALP - the mother
Shem & Shaun - the twin sons, Shem "the penman" and Shaun "the postman" - they have opposing natures that lead to conflicts
Issy - the daughter

Then there's an incident in a park involving HCE and a temptress, witnessed by three soldiers. (Look at the museyroom section and what is described about Willingdone - something like this incident is described there.)

Another example, on page 27, there's a description of some kids that seems to line up with the main family.

"Kevin's just a doat with his cherub cheek, chalking oghres on
walls, and his little lamp and schoolbelt and bag of knicks, playing
postman's knock" = Shaun "the postman"

"the devil does be in that knirps of a Jerry sometimes, ... making encostive inkum out of the last of his lavings and writing a blue streak over his bourseday shirt." = Shem "the penman"

"Hetty Jane's a child of Mary. " = Issy the daughter

" But Essie Shanahan has let down her skirts...She's making her rep at Lanner's twicenightly" - This I think is the girl HCE comes to spy on in the park. Notice that mention of her seems to cause Finnegan to stir, because the next paragraph starts with "Aisy now, you decent man, with your knees and lie quiet and repose your honour's lordship!"

So my understanding so far is this is kind of how the book "works," that these patterns between the characters keep showing up, even though the names seem to change, and various details, but it keeps boiling back down to these same people.

message 37: by Catherine (new)

Catherine (metafiltersbrwife) | 31 comments Wikipedia has a very helpful plot summary.

message 38: by Aroon (last edited Jun 10, 2013 10:02AM) (new)

Aroon | 30 comments Mod
I'd wager Daniel has it right. It seems like with Chapter 1, Joyce has introduced us to all of the characters, narrative arcs, figures and myths, themes and concerns of the novel. It's like the 30 pages we just read are a neat microcosm of the larger novel, though we're not quite equipped to deal with most of it yet. Much is submerged and will only become elucidated and expanded upon throughout the rest of the book. We've been introduced to HCE as Finnegan, Willingdone and Van Hoother - and we have some hints about his mysterious sin/guilt regarding something that may or may not have happened in Phoenix Park. We're (maybe, if lucky) dimly aware of a variety of resurrection stories (Finnegan, Finn MacCool, phoenix, Osiris), historical concerns (Waterloo, Crimean war, Irish history, invaders and empire), Babel, the Viconian cycle, and the concept of the same events taking on personal, familial, political, historical, and mythological significance. We also have some sections that seem to provide metatextual commentary on Finnegans Wake itself. It's all quite a lot to take in, but we may be through the densest part, just because so much is thrown at us at once.

"Essentially, the rest of the book is enlargement, rearrangement, and decoration of what we are given in Chapter I." -Reader's Guide to FInnegans Wake

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