The Talking Lion

Thursday, May 19, 2005

riverrun...

I've been struggling through Ulysses of late, and I've gotta tell you, it's the best piece of literature I've ever read, bar none. Or so I thought. Last night, I was at a used bookstore with the Beast, Julie, and I picked up a copy of Finnegan's Wake that was in really good condition for only five quid. MOST. AMAZING. PROSE. EVER. Allow me to give the world a little taste of the first page:
The fall (bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonner-
ronntuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthur-
nuk!) of a once wallstrait oldparr is retaled early in bed and later on life down through all christian minstrelsy. The great fall of the offwall entailed at such short notice the pftjschute of Finnegan, erse solid man, that the humptyhillhead of humself prumptly sends an unquiring one well to the west in quest of his tumptytumtoes: and their upturnpikepointandplace is at the knock out in the park where oranges have been laid to rust upon the green since dev-linsfirst loved livvy.

The entire 600+ page book narrates the night of one Finnegan, a native of a suburb of Dublin, from the time he falls asleep to the time he wakes. This is the third paragraph, so he's just dozed off, and that huge word at the beginning is thunder rumbling. The paragraph makes a parallel allusion to the fall of Adam and Eve (the book begins: " riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs.") and the fall of Humpty Dumpty. Because this is a dream, the two are free to comingle. But the allusion is secondary to just how. beautiful. the. language. is. Spend a little time absorbing it. It's so playful. I read the first ten pages like it was a rare and wonderful narcotic. Just amazing.

A link for the full e-text here.

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