Lots of Fun at Finnegans Wake: Unravelling Universals

Paperback | May 1, 2013

byFinn Fordham

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This book is a critical introduction to Finnegans Wake and its genesis. As well as offering a survey of critical, scholarly and theoretical approaches to Joyce's masterpiece, it analyses in detail the compositional development of certain key passages which describe the artist (Shem) and hisproject; the river-mother (ALP) and her "first kiss"; the Oedipal shooting of the universal father (HCE) by the priestly son (Shaun); and the bewitching and curious daughter (Issy). The analyses demonstrate "genetic" ways of reading the text which illustrate its immense range and playfulness and howthese qualities were generated in composition. As well as opening up the densely detailed textuality of the Wake in all its multiplicity, Fordham argues for a relation between the way the text was formed and key aspects of its thematic content: an uprising of particularity and detail against universality, absolutes and generality. Theproliferation of individuated textual details overwhelm any unitary concept to the text. And this reflects an idealised and utopian uprising as it overcomes centralising singularity: Finnegans do wake up. As part of this argument a qualified return to a notion of character is proposed. But it isqualified in that characters can be understood in part as reflecting the character of compositional techniques: self-criticism and concealment, expansion and growth, flow and reflection, transferral and transformation. The character of the text's composition as a whole can be, paradoxically, summedup in the force of individuated multitudes: in the people, both male and female, young and old, combining to overwhelm syntactic uniformity and singular signification.

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From the Publisher

This book is a critical introduction to Finnegans Wake and its genesis. As well as offering a survey of critical, scholarly and theoretical approaches to Joyce's masterpiece, it analyses in detail the compositional development of certain key passages which describe the artist (Shem) and hisproject; the river-mother (ALP) and her "first...

Finn Fordham is Reader in 20th Century Literature at Royal Holloway, University of London, UK.

other books by Finn Fordham

Format:PaperbackDimensions:280 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.68 inPublished:May 1, 2013Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199673578

ISBN - 13:9780199673575

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Table of Contents

IntroductionPart IA. Shem's 'Cyclewheeling History' (185.27-186.10)B. Anna Livia's 'very first time' (203.16-204.04)Part II'BUTT: I Shuttm!' (351.36-355.9)Part III'Nircississies' (526.20-528.24)Part IVRevising character: the Maggies and the MurphysBibliography

Editorial Reviews

"Finn Fordham has given us an important and major new study of Finnegans Wake, one that investigates the book with unparalleld intensity and in a brilliantly unique way. Among its many other accomplishments, Fordham's work contributes powerfully to the renewed upsurge of interest in what HelenVendler has called 'the art of close reading', offering its reader both a compelling defence of the practice and a brilliant exemplification of its exercise. Finn Fordham is a great and electrifying reader. No one else reads the Wake with quite the same kind of depth or intensity...This is a bookthat should appeal to and reward both the seasoned reader of the Wake and the novice... Its genetic exegeses are mind-widening and fun... [It] is a powerful and thought-provoking new study, one that will stimulate and reward any interested reader of the book. This is first-rate and importantwork." --John Bishop, James Joyce Broadsheet