Friday, March 05, 2010

Timely Edits

James Joyce was all artsy and cutting edge and experimental when he penned Finnegan's Wake.

Written during the Great Depression, it's no wonder that he was trying to find a new form. At the time, many were questioning the old forms of government and economic policy, with socialism and communism glittering brightly on the far distant horizon. Surely there had to be a better way, the downtrodden cried, and Mr. Joyce went off to find a better way to write the novel.

It's pure gibberish, of course. No one can make their way through it, yet the book remains in the great pantheon of great books. I suppose if you've made your mark in the literary world and then produce a pile of shite, no one would dare call you on it lest they risk looking the eejit.

Not many would dare to call out the Emperor on his lack of clothes.

In an effort to repair some of the experiments gone wrong, scholars Danis Rose and John O'Hanlon have made some much needed corrections to the original.

By poring over manuscripts and notes by the author, they crafted 9,000 edits that should make the prose a bit less dense. Although any author making up his own words and rules of punctuation can't be helped by minor edits. Some experiments simply don't work and need to be scrapped.

The new edition, available for E300 at a book shop near you soon, is said to make the syntax more clear, in the way that Mr. Joyce intended and which the original printer failed to replicate from the original manuscript.

So the Joycean scholars can merrily doublin their mumper all the time, with fresh fonts and trusses on the ruptured syntax.

Finnegan's Wake will be more readable, which isn't saying much. You'll still want your crib notes and reader's guides at hand to make sense of it.

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