Finnegans Wake

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A prose work by J. Joyce, published 1939. It is written in a unique and difficult style, making use of puns and portmanteau words (using at least 40 languages besides English), and a very wide range of allusion. The central theme of the work is a cyclical pattern of history, of fall and resurrection inspired by the Scienza Nuova of Giambattista Vico. This is presented in the story of Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker, a Dublin tavern‐keeper, and the book is apparently a dream sequence representing the stream of his unconscious mind through the course of one night. Other characters are his wife, Anna Livia Plurabelle, their sons Shem and Shaun, and their daughter Isabel. In the relationships of these characters all human experience, mythical and historical, is seen to be historically subsumed. In spite of its obscurity it contains passages of great lyrical beauty, and also much humour.

Subjects: Literature.

Reference entries

James Joyce (1882—1941) writer