samskivert: Finnegan’s Wake – James Joyce (N/A)

02 January 2001

Try as I might, I simply could not read Finnegan’s Wake. I waded through as much of the introduction as I could tolerate before tiring of the literary criticism babble and then decided to dive into the work itself. My enthusiasm lasted about halfway into the first chapter. I forged my way to the end of the first chapter in hopes that some sort of epiphany would coalesce in my mind and drive me onward through the text, but it didn’t.

I acknowledge that the writing is not meant to be clear and that Joyce is purportedly not trying to put forward some sort of coherent plot, but even taking that into account and making liberal accommodations for my own illiteracy, I was unable to make sense of anything other than the occasional lucid sentence. Even those fit into no larger structure in my mind. I would often have difficulty finding my place on the page after looking away because I could barely tell whether I had read a passage already or not.

It’s possible that there is value hidden somewhere within this thicket and it’s possible that I’ll go digging for it again some day, but I don’t currently have the inclination to work as hard as Wake requires.

©1999–2013 Michael Bayne