Wednesday, February 20, 2013

from swerve of shore to bend of bay

Is it possible that Finnegans Wake is an early feminist text? There could be an argument running the length of the book that patriarchy is the enslavement of women, that prostitution was invented for men by men, that coitus is--from the male perspective--little better than rape, that men build self-serving civilizations upon the backs of women, etc. Maybe. The HCE sex crime is a stand-in for The Fall which is an allegory of all male activity, maybe. The preoccupation of men is rape, and everything rises from that impulse. The fall of Ireland was/is the failure of men. Maybe. I begin to see how this historical view would actually raise men to being the engine of all history, which is pretty prideful, Mr Joyce, if that's what you're saying in your book. I don't claim that this idea is clearly outlined. Perhaps my reader wasn't aware that there is a bit of opacity built into Joyce's text. I'll keep reading and see what turns up.

Finnegans Wake, I maintain on this my second attempt to read it, is a magic book. By that I mean that reading it sparks the creative centers of my writerly brain and makes me sensitive to greater possibilities within novelistic form. That's some good magic, kids. What has Joyce shown? That you can bring anything into your narrative, in any way you like. He's shown a lot of other things, too.


  1. Hello Mr. Bailey!
    I've not attempted Finnegans Wake even once. I'm having a hard enough time mastering Moby Dick! But I like what you've said here about it. Anything that sparks the creative side of the brain is magic in my book and worth a look. Nice to catch up with you again.

  2. Yvonne, how are you? I miss doing the Literary Lab anthologies because I miss stories like yours. I hope you are still writing!

    I have no idea if I'll make it through FW this time. It seems to make more sense this time around, though. Even though I only got through about 100 pages two winters ago (I think), reading Joyce always makes me want to write; it always gives me ideas.

    I hope you're doing well. Thanks for commenting!