Lots of Fun at Finnegans Wake: Unravelling Universals (Hardback)
  • Lots of Fun at Finnegans Wake: Unravelling Universals (Hardback)
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Lots of Fun at Finnegans Wake: Unravelling Universals (Hardback)

(author)
£102.50
Hardback 282 Pages / Published: 30/08/2007
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This book is a critical introduction to Finnegans Wake and its genesis. Finn Fordham provides a survey of critical, scholarly, and theoretical approaches to Joyce's iconic masterpiece. He also analyses in detail the compositional development of certain key passages which describe the artist (Shem) and his project; 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). His analyses demonstrate 'genetic' ways of reading the text which illustrate its immense range and playfulness and how these 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. He shows that the proliferation of individuated textual details overwhelms any unitary concept to the text. And this reflects an idealized and utopian uprising as it overcomes centralizing singularity: Finnegans do wake up. As part of this argument he proposes a qualified return to a notion of character - qualified 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, summed up in the force of individuated multitudes: in the people, male and female, young and old, combining to overwhelm syntactic uniformity and singular signification. Quotations from the works of James Joyce reproduced with permission of the Estate of James Joyce, © Estate of James Joyce. We regret that acknowledgement to the James Joyce Estate for permission to include material by James Joyce was not included in the first printing of this book.

Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780199215867
Number of pages: 282
Weight: 585 g
Dimensions: 240 x 163 x 22 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
Sophisticated, erudite, and elegant... it is clear that we have here one of those landmark works on Joyce's Finnegans Wake. Among its many accomplishments Fordham's book demonstrates to a wide audience the procedure and potential productivity of genetic criticism and shows how this approach both stimulates and authorizes new ways of reading the Wake. The readings themselves are a marvelously layered consideration of words, sentences, and passages that illuminate how meaning becomes enlarged, complicated, shifted by revision. At the same time Fordham tracks a complex and fascinating thesis with theoretical implications. A brilliant job and lots of fun to boot. * Margot Norris, The James Joyce Literary Supplement *
Fordham's book is one of the most engaging and original studies of Finnegans Wake to appear in a very long time...Fordham has done Joyce's readers a great service by opening up this Pandora's box of inquiry. * Jed Deppman, Review of English Studies *
Fordham provides readings of Joyce's language with an improvisational air that belies the sheer erudition informing his writing. Like the Wake itself, there are flashes of insight and brilliance. * Forum for Modern Language Studies *
Wonderful. It does the most difficult thing - it renders the book more interesting without making it (or Joyce) sound too coherent. It has been really illuminating for me, a great pleasure to read. * Adam Phillips, General Editor of the Penguin Freud *
Certainly one of the best books on the Wake yet published, Lots of Fun is no heavy-handed guidebook or querimonious, would-be summary, but something far more enjoyable and useful: an attempt to experience the Wake on and with its own terms. * Tim Conley, James Joyce Quarterly *
A brilliant study of Joyce's drafting of Finnegans Wake, interesting for its own sake and offering an illuminating approach to reading the text. One of the best books on the Wake to have appeared in the last decade or two, it will appeal to all students of Joyce's work. The introduction will be valuable for those who are new to the Wake, but those who know it well will also find Finn Fordham's able survey extremely useful. * Derek Attridge *
excellent introduction...a commendably open and fluid approach...organically amenable to Joyce's own theory and practice of composition...the principles of genetic criticism are ably demonstrated here, and the value of this method is vouchsafed by Fordham's energetic and scholarly analysis...Fordham [proposes] the idea of character function...a subtle and supple approach, which stays faithful to the linguistic ebb and flow of Joyce's tragicomic heteroglossia. Thanks to the sterling work of Finn Fordham...Finnegans Wake is a garden in which a few more of us may play. * Keith Hopper, Notes and Queries, vol.56, no. 2, 303-6. *
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 Helen Vendler 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 book that 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 important work. * John Bishop, James Joyce Broadsheet *

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