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Scoped Out: Finnegans Web and Wiki

By Periscope @periscopepost

James Joyce's Finnegans Wake is perfect for the internet

Author James Joyce

The background

Finnegans Wake by James Joyce (1939) is arguably one of the most impenetrable works of literature known to mankind, even more so than his more famous book, Ulysses. It’s an experimental novel which uses its own argot, as it follows the Earwhicker family. Although most people haven’t quite worked out what the actual plot is. It is, perhaps, a book more talked about than read. But that might all be about to change. It turns out that his meandering, elusive tome is more suited to the internet than you might think. It’s all down to the power of the Wiki.

A wealth of explanation

But never fear – thanks to the might power of the internet, a site called Finnegans Web and Wiki has been set up which allows users to post their own comments and ideas about what is being referred to. Check out the first line:

“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.”

Now at a mere click all those densely packed allusions can be explained – “riverrun” has echoes of Coleridge, Genesis and Revelations; “commodius vicus” is shown to mean both a conveniently spaced village and a reference to comedy. What more could a reader want? If ever there was room for the power of the internet, then this is it.

“In the five plus years of the site’s existence, the amount and quality of information and presentation has increased exponentionally,” said the site’s founder.

@DarraghMc how many geek decades before we can put Finnegans Wake (nb no apostroph) into Google Translate and get a readable version?

— Hardcore for Nerds (@HC4N) May 3, 2012

You can also check out Wake in Progress, a site that showcases illustrations inspired by Finnegans Wake.

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