Finnegans Wake – “the book the web was invented for”
Hypertext - text that links to other information. By clicking on a link in a hypertext document, a user can quickly jump to different content.
Tim Finnegan is the hero of “Finnegan's Wake”, a 19th-century song in the “stage Irish” tradition of American vaudeville
In the song, Finnegan is a hod carrier well-known for drinking on the job -- a habit which leads to his premature demise by falling off a ladder.
His family and friends gather for a wake which quickly descends into a drunken brawl.
Bottles are thrown, one of which breaks over the casket, pouring whisky over the body of Finnegan and miraculously reviving him.
In chapter one of Finnegans Wake, this tale is retold on an epic scale.
Finnegan shifts ambiguously from being the middle-class drunk of the song to a culture-hero of mythological proportions.
From hod carrier to Master Builder (masturbator), he becomes the progenitor of civilisation itself. A god, whose death provokes nothing less than the coming of an age of darkness and the dawn of a new historical era
At the wake, his family, in one of many disturbing perversions of the story of Jesus, literally feeds on his body. When he wakes they hold him down and convince him to stay dead. As this is a dream, the question of how much of him has already been eaten doesn’t arise. In any case, his relatives successfully subdue and bury him, in preparation for the arrival of his replacement.
riverrun, past Eve and Adam's,
from swerve of shore to bend of bay,
brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to
Howth Castle and Environs H.C.E.
There is an annotated version of the text online which reveals that the book, like other supposedly difficult modernist texts such as Eliot’s The Waste Land and The Cantos of Ezra Pound, is basically an early example of hypertext - crying out for the development of the web, which would enable the holding of multiple domains of knowledge in the mind at one time that a proper reading requires
Sir Tristram, violer d'amores, fr'over the short sea,
had passen- core rearrived from North Armorica
on this side the scraggy isthmus of Europe Minor
to wielderfight his penisolate war
The web has taken to Finnegans Wake with open arms. There’s a Twitter account, @finnegansreader, which is dedicated to tweeting the entire text, 140 characters or fewer at a time. With 1,500 followers, it shows a healthy level of interest in a supposedly unreadable book. Another, @FW_WOTD, tweets daily definitions of Wake words; it’s even more popular
nor had topsawyer's rocks
by the stream Oconee
exaggerated themselse to Laurens County's Gorgio
while they went doublin their mumper all the time
Stephen Crowe, a Seattle-based illustrator, is working his way through a more thoroughgoing reimagining of the Wake on his Wake in Progress site. It’s an ongoing, image-by-image recreation of Joyce’s book as a kind of graphic novel. A project as insanely ambitious as this could only take shape online; print would be both too inflexible for Crowe’s slow pace and too expensive
nor avoice from afire bellowsed mishe mishe
to tauftauf thuartpeatrick
not yet, though venissoon after,
had a kidscad buttended a bland old Isaac
Another Wake project that has been made possible by digital technology is taking shape over at Waywords and Meansigns. The musicians involved in this project are putting together a collaborative musical version of the whole book.
not yet, though all's fair in vanessy,
were sosie sesthers wroth with twone nathandjoe.
Rot a peck of pa's malt had Jhem or Shen brewed by Arclight
and rory end to the regginbrow was to be seen ringsome on the aquaface
The fall (bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonner-
nuk!) of a once wallstrait oldparr is retaled early in bed
and later on life down through all christian minstrelsy.
The great fall of the offwall entailed at such short notice the pftjschute of Finnegan,
erse solid man, that the humptyhillhead of humself
prumptly sends an unquiring one well to the west
in quest of his tumptytumtoes
and their upturnpikepointandplace
is at the knock out in the park
where oranges have been laid to rust upon the green
since devlins first loved livvy.
What clashes here of wills gen wonts,
oystrygods gaggin fishy-gods
Brekkek Kekkek Kekkek Kekkek! Koax Koax Koax!
Ualu Ualu Ualu! Quaouauh!
Where the Baddelaries partisans
are still out to mathmaster Malachus Micgranes
and the Verdons catapelting the camibalistics
out of the Whoyteboyce of Hoodie Head.
Assiegates and boomeringstroms.
Sod's brood, be me fear!
Sanglorians, save! Arms apeal with larms, appalling.
Killykillkilly: a toll, a toll.
What chance cuddleys,
what cashels aired and ventilated!
What bidimetoloves sinduced by what tegotetabsolvers!
What true feeling for their's hayair with what strawng voice of false jiccup!
O here here how hoth sprowled met the duskt
the father of fornicationists
but, (O my shining stars and body!)
how hath fanespanned most high heaven the skysign of soft advertisement!
But waz iz? Iseut? Ere were sewers.
The oaks of ald now they lie in peat yet elms leap where askes lay.
Phall if you but will, rise you must:
and none so soon either shall the pharce for the nunce
come to a setdown secular phoenish (within the cellframes of mummery)
Bygmester Finnegan, of the Stuttering Hand,
lived in the broadest way immarginable
in his rushlit toofar back for messuages
before joshuan judges had given us numbers
or Helviticus committed Deuteronomy
(one yeastyday he sternely struxk his tete in a tub
for to watsch the future of his fates
but ere he swiftly stook it out again,
by the might of moses,
the very wat-er was eviparated
and all the guenneses had met their exodus
so that ought to show you what a pentschanjeuchy chap he was!)
and during mighty odd years
this man of hod, cement and edi-fices in Toper’s Thorp
piled buildung supra building
pon the banks for the livers by the Soangso.
He addle liddle phifie Annie
ugged the little craythur.
Wither hayre in honds tuck up your part inher.
Oftwhile balbulous, mithre ahead,
with goodly trowel in grasp
and ivoroiled overalls
which he habitacularly fondseed,
like Haroun Childeric Eggeberth
he would caligulate by multiplicab-les
the alltitude and malltitude
until he seesaw by neatlight of the liquor
wheretwin ’twas born,
his roundhead staple of other days
to rise in undress maisonry upstanded
a waalworth of a skyerscape of most eyeful hoyth entowerly,
erigenating from next to nothing
and celescalating the himals and all,
with a burning bush abob off its baubletop
and with larrons o’toolers clittering up
and tombles a’buckets clottering down.