Haupz Blog

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James Joyce

2022-06-03 — Michael Haupt

I really admire James Joyce, Irish author of, over time, increasingly arcane and wonderful literature. I'm also too stupid to "get" many of his more complex writings, but there's always Anthony Burgess' excellent guideline book, "Here Comes Everybody". (Reading that guide, and one specific chapter of "Ulysses", even inspired me to a literary introduction to aspect-oriented programming.)

Two pieces of Joyce's art strike me for their intense poetic, melancholic, and musical nature. The first, and more accessible, is the few final paragraphs from the final story in the Dubliners collection, "The Dead". Read it here (scroll down to the end and take in the final few paragraphs).

The second piece is the ending (?) of Joyce's final work, "Finnegans Wake", that wondrous contraption of portmanteaus and language nerdery. Find it here. What makes the ending so special?

The mental image is that of a river (the Liffey, in Dublin, in fact) flowing out into the sea and thereby losing its literal self as it dissolves into the ocean, in a dreamy fashion of growing self-unconsciousness. It has the same musical quality as the Dubliners ending. And then, the book circles back to its beginning - you can really just flip back to the first page and start over, and the language will be very powerful, quite the opposite of how it ended, but it’s connected.

That's quite unmatched.

Tags: books