catapult magazine

catapult magazine


James Joyce


Jul 31 2003
08:00 am

Has anyone out there read Joyce’s Finnegans Wake? I have been looking over some sites dedicated to the novel (if it can actually be called that) and reading some exerpts of the book itself. I have to admit, I’m fascinated (if a little confused/frustrated).

If anyone out there has read this book, do you have any suggestions for how to approach it? Should one research the book and analyze it carefully, or simply soak it in?


Jul 31 2003
11:12 am

Ha! I’m at just about the same place as you with Joyce. I would call myself a fan of his even though I’ve not yet been able to slog through Ulysses or Finnegans Wake. I’ve read portions of both and enjoyed them a lot, but in a much different way than one enjoys a great, fast-moving, plot-driven novel. Now that we’re talking about it I’m gonna have to pick up Ulysses again. I’ll get through it this time! The books are SO HARD, though. So many allusions and references to things I know little about.

I was mainly fascinated by Finnegans Wake because I knew that Samuel Beckett assisted Joyce in writing it since Joyce was nearly blind at the time. Finnegans Wake is even less penetrable than Ulysses, it seems. I just read a review of Bob Dylan’s new film “Masked and Anonymous” that told the viewer to “see it on one glorious shot, grab as much from it as you can, and run like hell.” That seems like a good technique for reading Joyce, too. So we don’t catch everything. What can it do but expand our mind and way of thinking?


Jason Panella
Feb 27 2006
02:20 am

Finnegans Wake is even less penetrable than Ulysses, it seems.

You hit the nail on the head. [i:4a81b05c53]Ulysses[/i:4a81b05c53] is hard to begin with, but there’s at least some structure. [i:4a81b05c53]Finnegan’s Wake[/i:4a81b05c53] is so dense and complex I almost laugh every time I pick it up. Joyce is one of my favorite authors, but I doubt I’ll ever be able to slog through these books.


Mar 06 2006
02:26 am

I’ve read this book and I enjoyed it after I decided on how to approach it. My thoughts were sort of on the scope on how I think our minds work if we’re comotose or on the verge of death. What do we see and hear if we’re in a coma? How does time apply? How do we view the world? I think it would be similar to the dream-like state of Finnegan’s Wake. Using that approach, and keeping it in my mind as I read the story made it possible for me to take in the story without the complexities completely frying my brain. Perhaps reading a synopsis or two of the book could help, but I prefered the imagery of the coma. Probably sounds a little morbid, but it worked lol. Good Luck!