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Finnegans Wake: An Illustrated Panorama

October 19, 2012 | by

I wanted to illustrate something impossible, so I chose Finnegans Wake. It would be silly for me to draw in a few panels a work that took James Joyce seventeen years to complete. So I cheated.

The name of the book comes from a nineteenth Century drinking song, “Finnegan’s Wake” (note the apostrophe). The song is about death and rebirth, and ends in a whisky-fueled brouhaha. There is little in agreement, on the other hand, on what Joyce’s book is about. Reading a page at random from Finnegans Wake is a bit like trying to read while drunk. But death and rebirth are undoubtedly major themes, as the book begins halfway through its final sentence. So here’s a single strand of DNA—perhaps the first—in Joyce’s impossibly dense opus infinitum.

Jason Novak works at a grocery store in Berkeley, California, and changes diapers in his spare time.



  1. Peter | October 24, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    I was hoping this post would be about the wonderful work artist Stephen Crow has been doing illustrating EACH PAGE of the Wake, see here:

4 Pingbacks

  1. […] Novak illustrates Finnegans Wake…in a way, I think. Truthfully, I’m not entirely sure what’s going on here, […]

  2. […] An illustrated panorama of Finnegans Wake. [via The Paris Review] […]

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