Friday, February 17, 2012

Typewriters in Finnegans Wake

10 comments:

  1. Brilliantine, Sir Riccardo Poltroon -- jaonickally speaking of course! The idea of playing jouay allo misto posto with some foolufools all barely in their typtap teens! Herr JJ was e'er an icy child amuser.

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  2. English major though I am, JJ and I just never got along. I just never saw his prose as "lyrical" or whatever the effusive adjective du jour is.

    Still—for mentioning typewriters—I award him exactly One Mike Point. No cash value.

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  3. I think of him as the literary version of Jackson Pollock. To most of us his work looks like an incomprehensible mess, but there are those who see something in it they like.

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    1. Excellent analogy, Peter! Fortunately I have never attempted to slog through any of his work, just hearing my friends describe it in college was enough to turn me off.

      I like this post, though, for showing us how a non-traditional writer depicted typewriters. Especially as I would not have come across these passages without your help, Richard!

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  4. That's quite an effort of transcription, such murky dreamtext! For that I salute you, Richard.

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  5. This lack of emotional connection with Joyce make me sad. Time to grab Finnegans Wake off my overcrowded shelf and get to work.

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  6. The Wake is admittedly hard to love. Individual sentences and paragraphs can be fun exercises in decoding punsterdom, but in my experience it can get tedious. Ulysses is more accessible and human, Portrait of the Artist still more so, and everyone should be able to enjoy the well-crafted short stories in Dubliners.

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  7. For me, reading Joyce reveals the manifest mad joys of life. Consider this, from Ulysses:

    Mr Leopold Bloom ate with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls. He liked thick giblet soup, nutty gizzards, a stuffed roast heart, liverslices fried with crustcrumbs, fried hencods' roes. Most of all he liked grilled mutton kidneys which gave to his palate a fine tang of faintly scented urine.

    So simple and so complex. The alternation of singulars and plurals. The profusion of g's--soft and hard--and the fizzy alliteration of f's and s's. Saying so much about Bloom & his appetites, about Irish food, about the viands that were likely, at the time, the cheapest cuts one could buy, and about the uniquely human attraction to flavor.

    I prefer Ulysses to Portrait and Dubliners. I've attempted but not succeeded in making it through FW. But every book has its time.

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  8. Yeah, I'm responding over a year after this was posted but, whatever, it's a slow day at work.

    I just wanted to note that Ulysses, the first draft, was written by hand. Pen and paper. The library I work at has a 3 volume set that reproduces the entire thing.

    Just take a moment to let that sink in. Ulysses was written with a pen and paper. I love that.

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    1. Thanks for this. I dug around a bit and found that according to this story, "Although one of the most cherished exhibits in the Dublin Writers Museum is James Joyce's typewriter, the truth is that the author suffered greatly from serious eye problems, including iritis, cataracts and glaucoma, could not read typed characters and rejected suggestions that he use a typewriter. Instead, he hand-printed in large letters using a charcoal pencil - which snapped off continually - on butcher's paper. The typewriter was used by his stenographer."

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