Finished the first chapter. Whatever that means. Here's where Finnegan wakes: the strange word means whiskey/water of life in Gaelic. Finnegan wakes at his wake when a fight breaks out and whiskey spills on him.
Have you whines for my wedding, did you bring bride and bedding, will you whoop for my deading is a? Wake? Usgueadbaugham!
Anam muck an dhoul! Did ye drink me doornail?
Compare that last line to the closing stanza of th'actual diddy:
"Thanum an Dhul, do you thunk I'm dead?"
I sat in Pitt Bradford's library for a few hours today reading comics. Eventually, I checked out the Joyce section and found Joe Campbell's A Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake, the first major criticism of the book to come out after its publication. He took a dozen or so pages to break down the basic meaning of the first four paragraphs of the book, which turned out to blow my mind. I'd compare it, if you'll use yer imagernation, to a decent pair of goggles. FW is this big damn pond, which is all well and good and pretty and complex, but if you get yourself even a simple pair of dollar store goggles, you can dip your head under the water and see the other 99.9% of the pond. It's all right there, you just need to take the time to look.
But most the time you need to take a lot of time to look. And the more I check this damn book out, the more it seems like Joyce was one of the foremost poetic and scholastic geniuses of the human race, and the more it turns out you can spend time ad-freaking-infinitum looking at all the references, cross-meanings, allegories, moral/social/philosophical/theological/geographical/cultural
connotations. Lots of times the same passage has intentionally conflicting meanings, because Joyce was a chummy bastard.
I'm just about nowhere in my understanding of the book so far, but the sandgrain of what I do know is impressing the goldurn heck outta me. I think I'm gonna buy a commentary on the text or find a free one online and trod a bit more carefully through the rest of the book over the next few years. I'm still not into a thorough scholastic reading of the text--even though at this point I'm sure it'd be worth my while, no matter how many decades it took--I'd like to have a better understanding of the poetic wordplay he completely 0wnz throughout the book.