'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'
Joyce's final work, Finnegan's Wake is his masterpiece of the night as Ulysses is of the day. Supreme linguistic virtuosity conjures up the dark underground worlds of sexuality and dream. Joyce undermines traditional storytelling and all official forms of English and confronts the different kinds of betrayal - cultural, political and sexual - that he saw at the heart of Irish history. Dazzlingly inventive, with passages of great lyrical beauty and humour, Finnegans Wake remains one of the most remarkable works of the twentieth century.
James Joyce (1882-1941), the eldest of ten children, was born in Dublin, 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, Ulysses 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 mental illness.
If you enjoyed Finnegans Wake, you might like Virginia Woolf's The Waves, also available in Penguin Classics.
'An extraordinary performance, a transcription into a miniaturized form of the whole western literary tradition'
Following the events of one single day in Dublin, the 16th June 1904, and what happens to the characters Stephen Dedalus, Leopold Bloom and his wife Molly, Ulysses is a monument to the human condition. It has survived censorship, controversy and legal action, and even been deemed blasphemous, but remains an undisputed modernist classic: ceaselessly inventive, garrulous, funny, sorrowful, vulgar, lyrical and ultimately redemptive. It confirms Joyce's belief that literature 'is the eternal affirmation of the spirit of man'.
'The most important expression which the present age has found; it is a book to which we are all indebted, and from which none of us can escape' T. S. Eliot
'Intoxicating ... a towering work, in its word play surpassing even Shakespeare' Guardian