FINNEGANS WAKE: PAGE-BY-PAGE
All comments welcome; and, welcome as additions to the site:
Unless otherwise stated,
all content © A.E.M. Baumann
My intent here is primarily as a collection site and chalkboard for my own notes on my re-reading of and thinking over of the Wake. Primarily, the center of exploraiton is to focus not on the individual references, puns, etc., as to focus on the ideational levels of meaning and their flow, development, and interaction. Secondarily, it is a place to gather notes from what criticism I read.
The benefit of using html as a notebook is that it is far easier to rework pages than it is with hand written. The flip side to that, however, is it takes a lot more work at the beginning to figure out how to organize and present. (And, for someone like me that is not a master of web design, the basics lego-block figuring of the html/css.)
Because this is in the nature of a notebook, it is wholly developmental. Thus, notes at the beginning of the project will suffer for not being able to reference sections at the end of the book which I do not remember or to which I have never given serious thought. (I've read the Wake thrice already and have done no small bit of critical reading on it, though it has been a while and most of my thinking on it all has been pushed into the more dusty storage rooms of the psychic attic.) As such, though I may not say it overtly, there is always the assumption of "more to come on this" or "subject to rethinking and revision."
As a methodological policy, I will bring in references to whatever books I am reading at the time. But I will not intentionally seek out information from other books during this first go around: that is, I want to develop my own thoughts on the Wake's ideation and flow before I go to someone else to compare answers. Thus, when such references do show up in the notes, it will be (unless I explicitly say otherwise) that they are supplementary to my own thoughts; and not guiding of them. (This especially includes Tindall's Reader's Guide.) Because of the multivalent nature of the Wake, is very easy for an individual and even a group to talk themselves into a line of thinking that looks pretty solid – until a someone notices a thread that, when pulled, rearranges the whole section. What is too common in literary criticism generally is all the more present with the Wake: ideas and interpretations put forward at one point tend to hang around even though, years later, someone else has put forward a stronger interpretation. (For example, there are aspects of Benstock's outline in Joyce-again's Wake that I consider completely incorrect, though that book is still, rightly, a major critical work on the Wake. As well, the relatively recent Wake Rites by Gibson may be a major correction to Wake scholarship, some sixty years down the critical road.)
There is more introduction and methodological explanation below the jump menu.
Note: as this project is just beginning, expect the formatting of the pages to change now and then as I figure out what works best towards organization and presentation of information.
Note: I am cut and pasting the quotes from the Wake from Finnegans Wiki, which I believe has the un-corrected text (I have not checked yet). I will try to check them against the 2d edition with Joyce's corrections, but be alert as no promises to thoroughness are being made.
The project here is of two energies. First, while I have read the Wake through three times previous, and spent many hours exploring various parts of the book in depth, I have never given effort to a full, start to finish, general outlining, one that charts the underlying structures of the book, and have long wanted to. I have recently been brought to return to the Wake by on-line acquaintances, and have decided to go ahead and pursue this larger (and very long term) project. Once I get things started, this will mostly be a side project of mine, so it will be slow going; made even slower by that I also want to read and/or re-read criticism and source material – e.g., finally giving Vico more than casual reading – at the same time.
Second, creating a web-based notebook gives me the opportunity to collect information, interpretations on the Wake in a way not possible with hard copy notebooks. Because of the access to information permitted by the internet, there is a greater ability than ever before to create an easily accessible storehouse of information on the Wake. For example, I can quickly create and link to pages that hold the lyrics to songs refered to in the text. Or, I can create an easily modifiable page dedicated to the story of Tristram and Isolde that not only offers the basic story but interacts with how that story is presented and used within the text of the Wake.
The Jump Menu: I will create one page for every page in the web, and pages that focus on the major (and minor) episodes in the web. As well, I will create pages that chart the ideational and narrative flow across individual pages. In the link menu above, only pages that have been created will have active links. (That is, I will not create a page unless I have something to write upon it. The others will be colored light grey to easily distinguish them.) It would definitely save visual space to make a simple "jump to page X" menu, but you would lose the information of what pages have actually been started. Perhaps, in the future, I might do both.
On Content and References: I will not give reference to everything I put up on these pages even though I may have gotten the note from some source simply because I got that information from some source. If a note is something to me self-evident from the text, it does not need a reference, even though I may have first come upon it in a critical work. For the most part, there is not need to cite where I learned of cross references within the Wake. I will generally only note things that fall outside that simple rubric. The generating of a running outline will be wholly mine, and I will make note of outside sources only when I myself turned to them and am presenting them as corrections, alternatives, and such. Finally, I have no intention of reduplicating McHugh's Annotations (or other such references) here. This effort is going to be oriented more toward the structure and flow of the Wake than to the particular, moment by moment details of the Wake. When I do use McHugh, I will note him only when the information, again, is not self-evident (for example, I will not source an occurrence of the initials "HCE" in the text that I missed and saw only because of McHugh; likewise, I will not note an obvious historical reference merely because I did myself not know the historical details of the reference before seeing it in McHugh.) Note: a reference "McHugh" alone refers to the Annotations. References to McHugh's The Sigla of Finnegans Wake will be so identified.
With each page, I give link to same page on the Finnegans Wiki site. With that, you can get access to what references, etc., people have offered there in phrase-by-phrase interpretation. Note, however, it is a wiki: just because the information is offered does not make it good information. The ALP chapter of the Wake is prime demonstration. People have found the name of thousands of rivers hidden in the chapter: far, far more, it is assuredly true, than Joyce himself put in the chapter.
Finally, keep in mind this site is firstly my own notebook. Therefore I may give argument in support of something that someone else has already and more elegantly demonstrated or even to a point that is commonly held. But if there is an interpretive argument to make, there is no reason not to make it, simply so that the argument is present. Unlike with books, there are no paper costs to the internet: a person can spell out online what has to be edited out for sake of space in a book.