Wednesday, April 19, 2006

And then, there's this

One of my life's obsessions is the strange book that begins as such:

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.

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: nor
had topsawyer's rocks by the stream Oconee exaggerated themselse
to Laurens County's gorgios while they went doublin their mumper
all the time: nor avoice from afire bellowsed mishe mishe to
tauftauf thuartpeatrick: not yet, though venissoon after, had a
kidscad buttended a bland old isaac: 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 dev-
linsfirst loved livvy.

One of the first things I did in grad school was to book a trip to the local rare books library that contains the notebooks that Joyce used when writing Finnegans Wake. I ended up writing a long, rambling essay about Joyce and Bruno that was far less professional than anything I've written since (probably another way of saying it was more eros than thanatos!), but which I've considered returning to as of late. Did Joyce escape up his own fundament in this book? I don't know. One thing I've found is that it's a lot funnier than it seems at first. Certain sections of the book are funnier than anything else I've read. But, it's bewildering too. I think it's worth it though.

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