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3.8 out of 5 stars
Finnegans Wake
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on August 30, 2015
Excellent seller. Don't hesitate.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on July 4, 2005
i haven't yet finished my first read through of this book, but even now i think it's fair to say that this is an amazing piece of work. i just want to reiterate what a couple of people have said. firstly this is not literature, as such, it shares far more with music than it does with literature, and secondly, it should be read as you would listen to music, letting it wash over you, not trying to control any of it, not trying to realize what is happening. you should realize that after a while things will make sense, and even if the book never makes sense to you entirely it doesn't matter. to view this book as beautiful nonsense does no disservice to it, i think, because it is definitely the ultimate in beautiful nonsense if that's the way you want to see it.
and really, if you're going to write this off as gibberish, realize the man spent 17 years of his life perfecting this book. he went blind while writing it. his daughter was put into a mental asylum and europe was in the begining throes of world war II and still he wrote this book. more work has been lovingly poured into these pages than most writers put into their entire career. if you don't like it, fine, but calling this book gibberish is doing a huge disservice to the author and only making yourself look stupid. just say you don't like it, that's all you need to say.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 26, 2005
You will probably consider this novel to be difficult. I agree with anybody who thinks so. It is very difficult. It certainly is hard to grasp, but once you get into it, that is it. James Joyce stretched the language and brought the book to a far higher form of writing that is uncommon around. Uncommon in the sense that you have to get into it to love it. For easier, compelling reads, I recommend the works of Janvier Tisi.
Also recommended: Disciples of Fortune, Parsifial Mosaic
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 21, 2005
You will probably consider this novel to be difficult. I agree with anybody who thinks so. It is very difficult. It certainly is hard to grasp, but once you get into it, that is it. James Joyce stretched the language and brought the book to a far higher form of writing that is uncommon around. Uncommon in the sense that you have to get into it to love it. For easier, compelling reads, (...)
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 15, 2004
Hep the noodle went the proprietor, laugh, crafting laughing, spinning face on touchtop of oats and wheat in the grange. But for the crosshatch eyebrow, then sanctify, in barrels, who glossface knows no nose.
Whepped, whipped, on a turnip stitch, when she smiled and flung her hair back, wet; drip; drip; drip, and a breeze cool and encumbered with hopefake. The stigmata of her hands, blood drain.
If he takes her by the hair hair hair, stands - doesn't the cistern fill with wet, circumspect? - and he sets aloft the dregs of her, to douse with cleanse, polyandry from the morn and the eve. And doesn't this fit the swellick twofold or more?
It is felicitous to devour julienne upon petit four, more, and he told her with pettifoggery to her cool laughter. Not eat; twain, grelch, grolsh. Into the phaeton, all singsong, all along, wretches and fables, choking on guilt and profane, and she was away. Back to hideabinds he skulks. Over.
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on May 19, 2004
The phrase that I've used to entitle this review is from Hegel, "Wut des Verstehens." It refers to the human drive to want to understand everything---and the irritation that human beings feel when something slips from their intellectual grasp.
FINNEGANS WAKE is a ceaseless flow of language... It has neither beginning nor end... It is without sentences... Perhaps it doesn't even enfold words...
Give up the attempt to understand FINNEGANS WAKE. Glide along its multitudinous surfaces. Bask in its language. Read it silently. Read it aloud.
Read without trying to understand any of it.
The reviews that surround this one may be used by a future scholar who would like to track down the misreception of FINNEGANS WAKE in the United States in the early twenty-first century. Again and again, Joyce is lambasted for not common-parlying. The apostles of commonsense want to hear only what they think that they already know. When a writer comes along and says something in a new way, they balk and coil.
This is not a book to be understood. It is a book of darkness, of ciphers, of dreams.
I will leave you with a brief excerpt from FINNEGANS WAKE, Part III. It is a description of hellos:
"...after their howareyous at all with those of their dollybegs (and where's Agatha's lamb? and how are Bernadetta's columbillas? and Juliennaw's tubberbunnies?..."
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1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on April 2, 2004
I could take in a dump in a fancy looking box and some of you people would probably label it as "The greatest singularization of Drama, Vision, Madness and Awe ever conceived of".
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on March 23, 2004
"This is the book that never ends it goes on and on my friends. Some people started reading it not knowing what it was and they will continue reading it because this is the book that never ends..." (based on the song the never ends)
If you are a person who like to read the ending first please do with this book. Read the ending or at least the last sentence. The book opens with the last half of the sentence that closes the book. Just as I jokingly changed the song lyrics from song to book, this book does not really end. It is a cycle that repeats and does not really have a begin point. Open the book any where at begin.
Since it is a book that does not end, I have read the pages twice through, but truely I have never finished reading it.
The book has a flow which as printed text stays the same but each reading through is different. It is a simple plot as given in the summeries, but also one of great complex. It is a book to be spoken, not one to read in silence. The way to read this work is to simply hear it. If you do not understand, simply keep listening. As a child I was told, if you do not know a word look it up. In this book, skip the looking up and keep the flow alive. At some point you will enter the flow of the words.
The book remind me of the Lord of the Rings. Both authors create an multilayered and deep reality. Both authors like to play with language. LORTR is adventure styled after the sagas of spoken by the winter fires old and creates a myth saga in a dream like world. FW is styled to be spoken by a winter fire and interweaves myth with the conscious and the unconscious struggles of modern life in a dreamlike world. The LORTR is easy to follow, but the reminding ends for FW is not easy to follow. Yet how can flowing struggle of conscious and unconscious be easy to follow?
It can be said half joking "that reading FW is like the withdrawl off Paxel or any of its class of drug. You risk part of your sanity as you struggle with the conscious and unconscious flow of life."
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on March 22, 2004
"Finnegans Wake" is a novel for people who are tired of reading novels. The chapter summaries in the table of contents, and not the body of the novel itself, give evidence of a plot, which concerns the dream-consciousness of a man whose initials H.C.E. recur as an acronym at various points in the text and whose wife Anna Livia Plurabelle, sons Shem (the Penman) and Shaun (the Postman), and daughter Issy figure prominently among many other exotic and unexpected characters. However, the presentation is so nebulous and abstract that the novel resembles nothing else in literature, although the style looks deceptively easy to imitate.
Upon first looking at the pages of "Finnegans Wake," one inevitably must wonder what it's supposed to be. My explanation of it is an extension of my theory about "Ulysses," which is that "Ulysses" was Joyce's effort to write a novel that used every single existing word in the English language, or at least as many as he could. (Among its 400,000 words, "Ulysses" certainly has a much broader lexicon than any other novel of comparable length.) Having exhausted all the possibilities of English in "Ulysses," he had only one recourse for his next project, which was to create an entirely new language as a pastiche of all the existing ones; the result is "Finnegans Wake."
The language in "Finnegans Wake" is a continuum of puns, portmanteaus, disfigured words, anagrams, and rare scraps of straightforward prose. What Joyce does is exploit the way words look and sound in order to associate them with remote, unrelated ideas. For example, his phrase "Olives, beets, kimmells, dollies" may sound familiar to those who happen to know that the first four letters of the Hebrew alphabet are aleph, bet, gimel, daled. "Psing a psalm of psexpeans, apocryphul of rhyme" recalls a nursery rhyme that may reside quietly in your most dormant memory cells, while "Where it is nobler in the main to supper than the boys and errors of outrager's virtue" sounds like a drunk auditioning for the role of Hamlet. Imaginary adjectives that pertain to letters of the English alphabet are employed to describe Dublin as a city "with a deltic origin and a nuinous end." "Finnegans Wake" is the ultimate in esoterica, and what you get out of it depends largely on your store of knowledge, so that upon completion, with a mutual wink at Joyce, you congratulate yourself for being so clever.
The text is supposed to reflect a dream or a dreamlike state, an imperfect rendering of hazily remembered pictures and thoughts, but it also evokes the multivocal babble one might hear in a crowded Irish pub, multiple rolling streams of lilting brogue-laden speech combining into a sort of rhythmic cacophony, a variegated procession of verbal images ranging from the mundane to the fantastical. It cannot be read in any conventional manner of reading prose; each sentence has a melody, and the words must be vocalized in the mind to hear the verbal music. It can be maddening if you try to make meaning of it all, but if you're familiar with Joyce's past work, you've already risked your sanity adequately to make it through "Finnegans Wake."
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1 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on March 13, 2004
There is nothing worse than an illiterate writer.
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