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Finnegans Wake

Anthony Burgess writes: "/.../ no writer of the contemporary period has been able to ignore it, though most writers have succeeded in not being influenced by it."

Well, to me this book is more or less unreadable. I have read the first few pages (mainly in the "A shorter Finnegans Wake", edited by none other than Anthony Burgess) and I can appreciate the melody and rhythm in the language. But, apart from the nursery-rhyme qualities, I just don't get it.

Lots and lots of material can be found on the internet about James Joyce and Finnegans Wake. Most information in one place can probably be found at

When looking for reviews it's fairly common to meet the sentiment expressed by Orrin Judd at, a site with literature reviews (and other things). Basically, Finnegans Wake is described as unreadable, and Orrin Judd even goes so far as to say that no one has ever actually read this book. And he won't take yes for an answer! In the commentary the response given to all people that claim to have read the book is some thing like 'you only pretend'.

I assume it's a provocation, but many people applaud the review. But why would James Joyce spend seventeen years writing something that no one would or even could read? Unfortunately, the Judd brothers give no explanation to this, but I must say it's a bit simple to dismiss Finnegans Wake as a very big Sokal hoax, or some kind of Emperor's New Clothes.

I will probably never read it, simply beacuase I don't think I will understand it without lots of guidance, and that's not the way I like to read.

Copyright © 2009 Peter Andrén