Greetings! I'm here to report on the first meeting of our Finnegans Wake reading group.
I must admit I found the whole process rather confronting. In my reading of the Wake in preparation I'd been keeping some pretty extensive notes, and was convinced that I'd built a pretty compelling take on the novel that put Nietzsche's concept of eternal return front and centre, albeit a reading that was based on a couple of introductory essays, and 16 pages of the actual text itself!
But...that's not really how it goes. The group reading allows (and promotes) a much more multifocal reading of the text. So, so much for my absolute interpretation.
I think I (we) learnt two things today. The first was that the Wake sounds great when you read it aloud. Even better than when you're reading it in your head. Lou was adamant before the meeting that reading it aloud pushes you into an Irish brogue, and Miri showed us that very effectively in what was definitely the highlight of the readings we heard. I also have a feeling, although I'll need to give this some more thought that the portmanteau words operate differently when they're spoken as opposed to when they're read. There's something in there about the operation of metaphor, and perhaps even the metaphoric nature of language, but I'll leave that for another time.
The other thing that was quickly obvious is that a knowledge of the narrative of the Wake may be quite important for reading the text. I was maintaining a (probably) naive view that I would hold out, and glean the narrative from the text. Our two most experienced campaigners were adamant, however, that recourse to the narrative is crucial in understanding the text. For a text that has simultaneously so many, and so few handholds, I daresay they're right.
Anyway, much more to learn, that's for sure. Next time (1 pm Wednesday 24 August) we'll reading from 007.20 to 013.04 (or thereabouts). Let me know your thoughts by signing up and commenting.
Hope to see you all next time! JG
Oh and have a listen to this. Dropkick Murphy's are always relevant!