Author(s): James Joyce
Follows a man's thoughts and dreams during a single night. It is also a book that participates in the re-reading of Irish history that was part of the revival of the early 20th century. The author also wrote "Ulysses", "Dubliners" and "Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man".
Occasionally, usually when suffering from a fever, my mind takes words and phrases and pulls them apart and recombines them and distorts them and relates them to other words and phrases and hybridises them and separates them from their sense and plays around with their pronunciation. This is distressing. I used to think that this was caused by the neurotoxic side-effect of a pathogen or the delirium of fever, but soon came to believe that this is the nature of language: without our constant yet relatively feeble and fleeting attempts to coagulate it into meaning, language is a heaving sea of chaotic association and permutation, endlessly fertile but ultimately not compatible with sanity. We expend a lot of effort resisting language’s inherent tendency towards chaos, generally with good reason: we seek clarity and sanity. In Finnegans Wake, James Joyce pulls down all the dykes and lets the sea wash over the land. Herein lie all the linguistic symptoms it usually takes illness to induce. Joyce spent seventeen years compulsively holding the idea of the novel underwater, holding it in that moment of uncertainty when drowning and developing gills seem about equally likely. Having prescription for roxithromycin filled before reading this book is probably a good idea.
James Joyce was born in Dublin in 1882, but exiled himself to Paris at twenty as a rebellion against his upbringing. He only returned to Ireland briefly from the Continent but Dublin was at heart of his greatest works, Ulysees and Finnegans Wake. He lived in poverty until the last ten years of his life and was plagued by near blindness and the grief of his daughter's insanity. He died in 1941.