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Finnegans Wake (Wordsworth Classics) Paperback – 7 Jan 2012

3.9 out of 5 stars 430 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 656 pages
  • Publisher: Wordsworth Editions; Wordsworth Classics edition (7 Jan. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1840226617
  • ISBN-13: 978-1840226614
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (430 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 9,037 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

The eldest of ten children, James Joyce was born in Dublin on the 2nd of February 1882. Despite his family being impoverished by his father's failings as a business man, Joyce was educated at the best Jesuit schools and later in 1898 at University College Dublin. His first published work was a review on Ibsen's play When We Awaken in the Fortnightly Review in 1900. Upon graduating, Joyce moved to Paris in pursuit of a medical career. Before long, he gave up attending lectures and devoted himself to literature. He returned to Dublin as a result of the fatal illness of his mother and shortly afterwards, in 1904, Joyce met Nora Barnacle who was later to become his wife. The young couple travelled to the continent and in 1905 settled in Trieste where they were to remain until 1915. Joyce's first book Chamber Music was published in 1907 as a book of poetry and Dubliners followed in 1914.

The Joyces had two children; Giorgio, born 1905 and Lucia in 1907. Lucia was to develop a disturbing mental illness which greatly affected the family and would remain a prominent factor for the rest of Jocye's life. During the First World War Joyce moved to Zurich where he remained until 1919 when he moved to Paris to work on what is widely understood as his greatest and most prodigious work, Ulysses. After being worked on for eight years, Ulysses was published in Paris in 1922 on Joyces Birthday. It could be true to say that in Ulysses, Joyce attempts to 'know' everything and to add to this 'knowledge' by creating his own language. Joyce's highly experimental and revolutionary work positioned him firmly as one of the key figures of modernism.

As spoken to Georges Borach, one of Joyce's students in Zurich, Joyce comments that 'there are indeed hardly more than a dozen themes in world literature. Then there is an enormous number of combinations of these themes.' He goes on to denounce all the thinkers of the last 200 years and to position Aristotle as the 'greatest thinker of all time.' Such statements are testimony to Joyce's determination in his quest for knowledge, to know what knowledge was and to challenge it. Joyce greatly admired authors such as Dante, D'Annunzio and Ibsen.

Joyce was greatly admired by many authors including Italo Svevo, author of Zeno's Conscience who he met in Trieste and, Samuel Beckett who he met in Paris.

Product Description

Review

enhances the reader's textual awareness...The captivating, accessible and rich introduction by Finn Fordham enthuses first-time readers (James Joyce Broadsheet, Dirk Van Hulle)

The editors have provided a lucid introduction and a chapter-by-chapter outline which gives one at last a vague hold on what's going on, but it's not overburdened with notes, which frees one to stop worrying and just enjoy the surrealism and exuberance of Joyce's language. (Independent on Sunday) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

Finnegans Wake, by James Joyce, is one of the central texts of twentieth-century literature, now in an edition incorporating Joyce's own alterations and corrections to the first printing in 1939. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
So much has been written about this book in the past eighty years that its reputation alone is enough to dissuade some readers. I think that the reviews printed here reflect the balance of opinion about it, both why it is so revered and why some describe it as being unreadable. For what it is worth, 'Ulysses' is, for me, one of the most sublime monuments in world literature, a book unlike any other, and one that deserves a place among the very small number of classics that should be enjoyed for centuries to come. However, I do understand those that have struggled and failed with it.
Firstly, to like this book is not 'pretentious'. It is perhaps my pretension that made me read it and want to understand it to begin with, but certainly not my pretension that made me enjoy it. These are not to be confused. Secondly, it is 'difficult'. If someone tells you otherwise, I would like to know what they are comparing it to. Joyce's language is convoluted and obscure, and often important events are referred to so obliquely that they bypassed me if my attention was wandering. I have read the book twice and realised that I missed much the first time round. However, the rewards for sticking with it are huge. Thirdly, don't let the scholarly dissection of the book put you off. There are a lot of themes underpinning the book, not least the explicit parallels with the 'Odyssey' and the slightly more implicit theme of the relationships between fathers and sons (paralleled by a reference to Hamlet that runs through the book). However, it would be wrong to view 'Ulysses' as some sort of puzzle to be solved. It is, very simply, a book about a man (Bloom/Daedalus/Joyce) and about Ireland in 1904. For all its scholarly overtones it is about a day in the life of an everyman.
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Format: Paperback
Nearly everybody knows about Joyce's extravagant depiction of one day in early 20th century Dublin, and almost nobody has actually read it (unless forced to do so at school).
The length of the book, the legendary "difficulty" of the English, even the lack of punctuation, all serve to make most potential readers queasy. This perception is enhanced by the enormous volume of secondary writing on the book and Joyce himself. Everything about the text seems to be a license for academics to be pretentious and superiour. Read Ulysses for pleasure? Are you mad? Have you been down the pub with Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus?
As far as I am aware, I am neither mad nor drunk, but I do recommend holding one's literary breath and plunging into this masterpiece.
This book is truly an extraordinary novel. Joyce is a master at depicting and analysing mankind. His ability to describe human emotions on both a concious and sub-concious level is amazing. I am not saying it is easy. To be honest, there are large parts of the book that even after re-reading are way over my head, but too many believe that the book is beyond them. One should not focus on the bad, but the good, and the overall effect of the novel is nothing short of awesome.
So go on, ignore the stigma and the prejudice.
Read Ulysses, for fun.
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Format: Paperback
Started Ulysses twice at age of seventeen and then at eighteen and hoyed it both times after two hundred pages. I decided then I was obviously not clever enough to do it justice. My elder brother, a working class intellectual, sneered at my lack of mental stamina. And so be it. It does require stamina, fortitude, determination and enough supplements to stun a bull rhino to get through all 934 pages. So at the age of fifty eight I embarked on a further journey to read each and every page-well up to page 503 after that it was switch to speed auto read. Ok so completed around 1920, it is for obvious reasons a classic. Mr Joyce was a smart and creative force. Dublin in a day and everyman's journey (Leopold Bloom) is a worthy vehicle to drive this opus. It is that after a while it becomes tedious and I sank beneath the clever use of language to scream enough! Its parts do not justify the bulk of the whole. I lack a classical education, am self-taught but widely read. "War and Peace" it is not. My brother loved it because in general it excludes riff-raff like me. He, with a brain like a combined harvester on steroids could churn through and admire multiple levels of thought, process and he got a lot of the literary in-jokes. Me, I just wiped me brow, sweated on, rolled up more of me sleeve and wondered when the agony would end. When the last page turned, did I feel a better man for it? Not a bit. But good on you Mr Joyce, you kicked the bollocks out of the traditional novel and for that we ought to hold you in gratitude. But will I read it for fun at ninety? Don't hold your breath. Now where's me favourite Noddy book?
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Finnegans Wake. Well it took me 6 months to read Ulysses (including the excellent guide book necessary for comprehension). That's about 250 hours.
I thought I'd try FW next. I have 3 books to help understanding, that's 4 books to read. So far I have read the introduction & a few pages of FW. I recon it takes 2 hours to read each page of FW to have any hope of understanding it. The problem is that having deciphered each sentence & paragraph it takes so long that the previous paragraph has been almost forgotten & is difficult to reprise. I can appreciate that it is a great novel. BUT do I want to spend 2 to 3 years to read it? Somehow I feel that I can use the time so much better. I am not going to give up, but perhaps I will wait until I am infirm & obliged to stay in & read, & I have the necessary 1500 hours.
If I were cynical I could perhaps mock/joke about FW by saying that each word has so many meanings/interpretations/double meanings/etc/etc that by only a slight extension perhaps the whole OED (Oxford English Dictionary) could be replaced by one word since each word has all meanings. FW renders language both very rich & meaningless.
Reading & understanding this book is a truly daunting intellectual challenge & not for the fainthearted & not just `for fun'.
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