The Wake of Finnegan’s Wake

Ivan Labayne

Not a mourning, The Wake of Finnegan’s Wake, is a celebration of James Joyce’s monumental work, Finnegan’s Wake. Often cited, often admired and yet arguably rarely read to the last page, Joyce’s encyclopaedic novel is seldom consummated. But no pleading here for a reading that consumes it, an engagement that completes it. All cultural forms are never fully closed; and hence, all cultural forms are open to conceptual forays.

The Wake of Finnegan’s Wake is composed of sentences taken from the Finnegan’s Wake. These are the sentences whose ordinal denotation ends in the 9th: hence, the 9th sentence, the 99th, the 199th, the 299th and so on. The 9th signals a seeming termination as much as a non-serendipitous return to the void, the semblance of the void, the 10th, the 100th, the 200th and so on. But not only the seeming void is belied; the seeming return is also refuted. As the 9th returns to the 0th, it is higher, greater. Thus, it is not only that ‘It returned but not exactly the same’; ‘It returned but higher, greater.’

With such premise, we can look forward to an ending which, having been made higher, greater numerous times, is very rich. But we know how Finnegan’s Wake ends, perhaps much more than we know how it gets there. Notorious not just for its length but also for its endless portmanteaus and neologisms, Wake is no easy read – and that is just reading in a superficial sense. It becomes a whole new enterprise if we speak of reading it critically, interpreting it with cunning and confidence.

The Wake of Finnegan’s Wake does not involve a literal reading of Finnegan’s Wake. It skims it while most of the time sticking to its purpose, the collection of the sentences in the novel whose order ends in the 9th. The work completes the novel from front to back but without really reading it. This is how the work pays homage to Joyce’s Wake: it plays games on it, it plays games using it. This is classic conceptual coyness – or better yet: brazenness –: spurring creativity by working on things that are already there.

The Wake of the Finnegan’s Wake wishes to be part of that serene part after termination, the 9th, and before resurrection, the 0th. It wishes to expose how that serenity is really rife with ramblings that can be productive, sewings that can be seductive – or seminal. Once the novel announces its end, it does not die. Maybe, “The author, in fact, was mardred,” as the 9399th sentence in Finnegan’s Wake tells us. But instead of being “mardred,” the author and the novel he leaves us is just marred, calling on us for our turn to read it, to make it rare, to make it dear. But the same way that “rare” and “dear” are in “mardred,” it also has “dead.” This we will embrace for again, the 9th may indicate death but there is a renewal in the 0 that comes next.

Just for the fancy of it, let me play with numerology amateurishly to end this. My counting says that the novel’s final sentence, albeit an incomplete sentence, is its 12348th. Adding 1,2,3,4,8 gives us 18, which finally gives us 9 in 1+8. The Finnegan’s Wake is clearly over. But it continues to rove and rove, and we are there, swarms of painstaking readers, taking over.


p. 4, 9th sentence: “Sanglorians, save!”

Save us, James.


p. 8, 99th sentence: “Welsh and the Paddy Patkinses, one shelenk.”

From the misery that is modernity.


pp. 9-10, 199th sentence: This is the pettiest of the lipoleums, Toffeethief, that spy on the Willingdone from his big white harse, the Capeinhope.

Stream-of-consciousness as the self’s struggle to be solid.

p. 13, 299th sentence: “‘Tis optophone which ontophanes.”


“Finnegans” is in the novel’s fourth sentence.

p. 16, 399th: “Urp, Boohooru!”




p. 19, 499th: “And a hundreadfilled unleavenweight of liberorumqueue to con an we can till allhorrors eve.”


The lengthier the work, the harder the modernist failure.


p. 24, 599th: “And would again could whispring grassier wake him and may again when the fiery bird disembers.”


The writer is dismembered.


p. 28, 699th: “Like the queenoveire.”


James Joyce as J2 = But James Joyce surpasses math.


p. 36, 799th: “Hence, my notation wide hotel and creamery establishments which for the honours of our mewmew mutual daughters, credit me, I am woowoo willing to take my stand, sir, upon the monument, that sign of our ruru redemption, any hygienic day to this hour and to make my hoath to my sinnfinners, even I get life for it, upon the Open Bible and before the Great Taskmaster’s (I lift my hat!) and in the presence of the Deity Itself andwell of Bishop and Mrs Michan of High Church of England as of all such of said my immediate withdwellers and of every living sohole in every corner wheresoever of this globe in general which useth of my British to my backbone tongue and commutative justice that there is not one tittle of truth, allow me to tell you, in that purest of fibfib fabrications.”




The constraints of a page.




p. 54-55, 899th: “Meggeg, m’gay chapjappy fellow, I call our univalse to witness, as sicker as moyliffey eggs is known by our good househalters from yorehunters of mamooth to be which they commercially are in ahoy high British quarters (conventional!) my guesthouse and cowhaendel credits will immediately stand ohoh open as straight as that neighbouring monument’s fabrication before the hygienic gllll (this was where the reverent sabboth and bottlebreaker with firbalk forthstretched touched upon his tricoloured boater, which he uplifted by its pickledhoopy (he gave Stetson one and a penny for it) whileas oleaginosity of ancestralosis sgocciolated down the both pendencies of his mutsohito liptails (Sencapetulo, a more modestuous conciliabulite never curled a torn pocketmouth), cordially inwiting the adullescence who he was wising up to do in like manner what all did so as he was able to add) lobe before the Great Schoolmaster’s.”





p. 61, 999th: “Is now all seenheard then forgotten?”


The constraints of a page are often forgotten.



p. 69, 1099th: “Where Gyant Blyant fronts Peannlueamoore There was once upon a wall and a hooghoog wall a was and such a wallhole did exist.”


The page as wall, destructible.



p. 81-82, 1199th: “The pair (whethertheywere Nippoluono engaging Wei-Ling-Taou or de Razzkias trying to reconnoistre the general Boukeleff, man may not say), struggled apairently for some considerable time, )the cradle rocking equally to one and oppositely from the other on its law of capture and recapture), under the All In rules around the booksafe, fighting like purple top and tipperuhry (Secremented Servious of the Divine Zeal!) and in the course of their tussle the toller man, who had opened his bully bowl to beg, said to the miner who was carrying the worm (a handy term for the portable distillery which consisted of three vats, two jars and several bottles though we purposely say nothing of the stiff, both parties having an interest in the spirits): Let me go, Pautheen!”

Let go of me, James Joyce!



P. 89, 1299th: “No answer.”

No answer.


p. 94, 1399th: “Suffering law the dring.”


As we read, we suffer.


p. 98, 1499th: “Maply me, willowy we, hickory he and yew yourselves.”


Many more woe, we, hiccupping, yapping.


p. 110, 1599th: “Our isle is Sainge.”


Singing a song, inside him, Joyce.


p. 117, 1699th: “The lightning look, the birding cry, awe from the grave, everflowing on the times.”


To flow and flow, but to where?


p. 144, 1799th: “For every got I care!”


Indifference in the modern times


p. 146, 1899th: “Buybuy!”


Bye stability.


p. 154, 1999th: “By the watch, what is the time, pace?”


It is the time for melancholy.


p. 159, 2099th: “And Nuvoletta, a lass.”


In Finnegan’s Wake, it is well-known that the last sentence stopped at


p. 166-167, 2199th: “A cleopatrician in her own right she at once complicates the position while Burrus and Caseous are contending for her misstery by implicating herself with an elusive Antonius, a wop who would appear to hug a personal interest in refined chees of all chades at the same time as he wags an antomine art of being rude like the boor.”


The missions: to complicate, to stir mystery, to be rude


p. 186, 2299th: “And the dal dabal dab aldanabal!”


But eloquence is in entropy.


p. 193, 2399th: “My fault, his fault, a kingship through a fault!


The fault of the system?


p. 198, 2499th: “It’s just the same as if I was to go par examplum now in conservancy’s cause out of telekinesis and proxenete you.”


Imprisons you, imprisons me.


p. 202, 2599th: “That’s the thing I’m elwys on edge to esk.”


But I cannot ask.


p. 205, 2699th: “Score Her Chuff Exsquire!”


I cannot score

p. 208-209, 2799th: “There was a koros of drouthdropping surfacemen, boomslanging and plugchewing, fruiteyeing and flowerfeeding in contemplation of the fluctuation and the undification of her filimentation, lolling and leasing on North Lazers’ Waal all eelfare week by the Jukar Yoick’s and as soon as they saw her meander by that maritime way in her grasswinter’s weeds and twigged who was under her archdeaconess bonnet, Avondale’s fish and Clarence’s poison, sedges an to aneber, Wit-upon-Crutches to Master Bates: Between our two southsates and the granite they’re warming, or her face has been lifted or Alp has doped!”

Sometimes, italics revive my awareness, the glimpse of a tentative, formative new.



p. 213, 2899th: “It’s churning chill.”


Defying coldness, formations proffer warmth.


p. 215, 2999th: “Lord save us!”


The warmest behest, or the coldest confusion?


p. 223, 3099th: “A time.”


For answers does not happen at one point.


p. 226, 3199th: “Be good enough to symperise.”


Sitting together, solving, stitching, working sympathetically, systematically


p. 229, 3299th: “Skilly and Carubdish.”


We can be better than the skills of Finnegan’s Wake


p. 233, 3399th: “For the faulters how he hates to trouble them without.”


It is my fault; it is not my fault.


p. 237, 3499th: Your head has been touched by the god Enel-Rah and your face has been brightened by the goddess Aruc-Ituc.

How about my mind?


p. 241, 3599th: “One could naught critically.”


Critically, one cannot.


p. 244, 3699th: Luathan?


Yes, sure


p. 247, 3799th: “Teapotty.”


A word and a period close together like this is the trademark of James Joyce


p. 250, 3899th: “Spickspuk!”


Speaking of Finnegan’s Wake is a dissertation, day-long conversations, rugged ruminations,shampoo salutations, calyowshus celebrationssss


p. 252, 3999th: “Where is Ange?”


It is celebrating, salutating, ruminating, conversing, disserting.


p. 258, 4099th: “And buncskleydoodle!”


Ange is here, doodled, addled.


p. 263, 4199th: “Pastimes are past times.”


Ange can be a spitter.


p. 270, 4299th: “A spitter that can be depended on.”


On and on it goes and we swerve somewhere.


p. 277, 4399th: “And Sein annews.”


Here, maybe: a new.


p. 285, 4499th: “In outher wards, one from five, two to five ones, one from fives two millamills with a mill and a half a mill and twos twos fives fives of bully clavers.”


In other words, some are in the outside.


p. 295, 4599th: “Allow, allow!”


Allow them to stay there.


p. 300, 4699th: “Wherapool, gayet that when he stop look time he stop long ground…”


Even not for long.


p. 305, 4799th: “Where is that Quin but he sknows it knot but what you that are my popular endphthisis were born with a solver arm up your sleep.”


The Queen, eunuch.


p. 313, 4899th: “In the frameshope of hard mettles.”


Tell me how to frame this.


p. 318, 4999th: “Her youngfree yoke stilling his wandercursus, jilt the spin of a curl and jolt the breadth of a buoy.


I am left accursed, jolted, breathless, braless, birdless


p. 323, 5099th: “Meistr Capteen Gasscooker, a salestrimmer!”


The first draft of Finengan’s Wake, before trimming was 3202020200 pages


p. 330, 5199th: “And she cot a manege.”


The manager was not game at first.


p. 335, 5299th: “The Wellingthund sturm waxes fuercilier.”


But James was in need of money to buy beer.


p. 338, 5399th: “Lets hear in remember the braise of.”


The context, and of Ireland and of World War souls


p. 344, 5499th: “Which goatheye and sheepskeer they damnty well know.”


Yet we do not really know.


p. 350, 5599th: “Dumble down, looties and genastermen!”


Get up, get up!


p. 356, 5699th: “And fullexampling.”


Sample rumbling, discourse tumbling.


p. 361, 5799th: “Spose we try it promissly.”


We surpass supposition, we promise action, we act isms


p. 366, 5899th: “Wickedgapers, I appeal against the light!”


Rage, rage for the dancing in the night!


p. 371, 5999th: “For him had hord from fard a piping.”


The Bard, the bad, the lard, the turd, they go peeping into the good night


p. 373, 6099th: “We just are upsidedown singing what ever the dimkims murmur allalilty she pulls inner out heads.”


Read Dubliners in the bus, read Ulysses in the clouds


p. 376, 6199th: “Tik.”


Kit me, kith me, keez me, tiech me, tauch me, katch me, kauch me


p. 378, 6299th: “He’s doorknobs dead.”


Get up, get up, we – are alllive, olive, allive.


p. 379, 6399th: “We’ve been carried away.”


Now we are rocking the way.


p. 393, 6499th: “And all.”


Are awakening, wondering, dangering, gandering.


p. 404, 6599th: “And lo, mescerned somewhat came of the noise and somehow might amove allmurk.”


Are we running amok, running amork? We organize!


p. 409, 6699th: Lard have mustard on then!


The movement muststart!


p. 413, 6799th: “By the wag, how is Mr Fry?”


He wishes to fly.


p. 419, 6899th: “But, Holy Saltmartin, why can’t you beat time?”


The time is never beat; the Samaritan faces futility.


p. 421, 6999th: “Key at Kate’s.”


The key is not with one person.


p. 423, 7099th: “I’m not at all surprised the saint kicked him whereby the sun taken Berkeley showed the reason genrously.”


Generous reasons are shown, Reason cried waterfalltears.


p. 428, 7199th: “And slyly mamourneen’s ladymaid at Gladshouse Lodge.”


There, Reason lodged himself and continued weeping waterfalltears.


p. 435: 7299th: “Dress the pussy for her nighty and follow her piggytails up their way to Winkyland.”


The trails are lost, expectedly.


p. 442, 7399th: “You’ll hear him calling you, bump, like a blizz, in the muezzin of the turkest night.”


And the trails remain lost, calling you there is the slyest msytifier.


p. 448, 7499th: “Oil for meed and toil for fied and a walk with the band for Job Loos.”


And boil your deeds and soil your seeds and a creed to create and crash


p. 454, 7599th: “With much leg.”


We have so much losing.


p. 458, 7699th: “Ahim.”


A hump, we balk.


p. 463, 7799th: “He’s the sneaking likeness of us, faith, me altar’s ego…”


Go, sneak out, like me, like them, lie damned, the altar’s gone.


p. 465, 7899th: “Be finish.”


Already we thought, but – finish?.


p. 468, 7999th: “Hammisandivis axes colles waxes warmwas like sodullas.”


Punitin ang inyong mga cedula!


p. 472, 8099th: “Good by nature and natural by design, had you but been spared to us…”


Do not spare the ellipsis.


p. 478, 8199th: “For my darling dearline one.”


The ellipsis has meant equivocation and cheating.


p. 480, 8299th: “It’s his lost chance, Emania.”


Ah, all of us lose chances!


p. 484,8399th: “Improperial!”


It might be proper to reclaim them!


p. 487, 8499th: “-O, is that the way with you, you craythur?”


Am I even a creature?


p. 491, 8599th: “A luckchange, I see.”


Not just luck, it is also us, chaining, changing.


p. 494-5, 8699th: “Responsif you plais.”


To please fuck, to please respond, to displease.


p. 499, 8799th: “He may be an earthpresence.”


The earth has nothing to gain but presence.


p. 501, 8899th: “Am I thru’ Iss?”


The true? Rut!


p. 503, 8999th: “But thundersheet?”


We modernists know nothing but to question to question to ask. Being critical? Being simply lost?


p. 506, 9099th: “Concerning a boy.”


The thunder strikes back.


p. 510, 9199th: “-Now from Gunner Shotland to Guinness Scenography.”


The Guinness Book of World Records gives nothing to Joyce or Finnegan’s Wake, a glad news.


p. 513, 9299th: “Dervilish glad too.”


The devil is in the dovetails.


p. 517, 9399th: “-The author, in fact, was mardred.”


Sorry, Barthes.


p. 520-1, 9499th: “Maybe you wouldn’t mind talling us, my labrose lad, how very much bright cabbage or paperming comfirts d’yu draw for all yur swearin?”


Ah, but I mind Sir.


p. 525, 9599th: “Short lives to your relatives!”


Long lives to our revolution!


p. 527, 9699th: “It’s meemly us two, meme idol.”


Unless it is just you me, us two, our memes, our idols.


p. 531, 9799th: “Of the strainger scene you given squeezes to me skillet!”


To make things strange, to strafe the current arrangement.


p. 535, 9899th: “The spiking Duyvil!”


Keep in touch, devil.


p. 538, 9999th: “Ous of their freiung pfann into myne foyer.”


The hell is the frying pan but the foyer we make leads elsewhere.


p. 546, 10099th: “Till daybowbreak and showshadows flee.”


Not heaven either.


p. 559, 10199th: “A time”


A time to spit at both hell and heaven, a time to turn pretentiously sober binaries tipsy


p. 561, 10299th: “She is dada’s lottiest daughterpearl and brooder’s cissiest auntybride.”


Dada, baba, sasa, haha, gaga, lala, kaka, rara. What gives


p. 563, 10399th: “And take.”


How many have reached page 566?


p. 566, 10499th: “Herein see ya fail not!”


I have failed!


p. 569, 10599th: “‘Tis hollyear’s day.”


Yet years afford endless days, universes afford endless years.


p. 571, 10699th: “Annshee lispes privily.”


Not privately, but socially.


p. 578, 10799th: “Ardechious me!”


As all worthwhile things are – arduous!


p. 582, 10899th: “Leary, leary, twentytun nearly, he’s plotting kings down for his villa’s extension.”


Thankfully, we are not kings.


p. 587, 10999th: “Faurore!”


Furor at what?


p. 593, 11099th: “Array!”


What kind of array? What if it is awry?


p. 596, 11199th: “Ruse made him worthily achieve inherited wish.”


The wish is to put things in disarray.


p. 599, 11299th: “Lots thankful, polite pointsins!”


For these sins, for our disarrays, pourgive us.


p. 602, 11399th: “By Patathicus.”


Pathetic us; buy, buy.


p. 607, 11499th: “A polog, my engl!”


No apologies for my English, a pool of engineers engineering a new failure.


p. 610, 11599th: “Dubs newstage oldtime turftussle, recalling Wimy Willy Widger.”


If not what, a new order? If not when, now? If not who, us? If not why, because most of us are sick of this!


p. 615, 11699th: “Mucksrats which bring up about uhrweckers they will come to know good.”


The good does not come; the good collect themselves.


p. 618, 11799th: “That we were treated not very grand when the police and everybody is all bowing to us when we go out in all directions on Wanterlond Road with my cubarola glide?”


That we were treated not very grand, we came up with a grand plan.


p. 620, 11899th: “And, lo, out of a sky!”


We saw the stars conniving, contorting, strategizing, stargazing, satisfying – low!


p. 622, 11999th: “It is hardly a Knut’s mile or seven, possumbotts.”


We kiss the posses so they become not.


p. 624, 12099th: “The Gowans, ser, for Medem, me.”


Ser, Medem, it’s over; seriously, damnation is near.


p. 626, 12199th: “While you’re adamant evar.”


Who is more adamant than who? One thousand-pages of paperony, hundred years of colonial, colloquial, imperialist suppering.


p. 627, 12299th:” For ‘tis they are the stormies.”


And we are have the land to be nourished.


p. 628, 12345th, 12346th, 12347th, 12348th: “Lps. The keys to. Given! A way a lone a last a loved a long the”

Legibility of power, sundered. The key is not just two, not just too. Given the ending, we long for not is there, nor here, nor hear, but where? It is where.