THE BOOKS AT THE WAKE: A Study of Literary Allusions in ""Finnegan's Wake by James S. Atherton

THE BOOKS AT THE WAKE: A Study of Literary Allusions in ""Finnegan's Wake

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In the mass of exegesis on that puzzling work, Finnegan's Wake, by James Joyce, this little volume ranks high for clarity and insight. Atherton, a British schoolmaster, and an authority on Joyce, has chosen to approach it through its many, almost infinite literary allusions and quotations. The ""structural books"" on which Finnegan's Wake is based include Vico, Freud, Jung, Prince and others. On these he bases his grand design of eternal recurrence of historical cycles, of the power of the subconscious, especially of the dreaming mind. But Joyce also intended his work to be a resume of the history of Everyman, a history of the world, a history of Ireland and of Dublin, a fusing of world religions and languages. Into it- during seventeen years- he poured his huge erudition and deep, though perhaps limited, insight. Atherton lists no less than 47 pages of authors and sources quoted or alluded to in The Wake. Far from adding up to a dull work of pedantry, this is an illuminating clarification of the general purpose and the fine detail of the immense poem of sleep and endless crossword puzzles which constitutes the whole. One reads it with profound admiration of the general philosophical plan, as well as a more patient approach to the obscurities. A goldmine for Joyce lovers.

Pub Date: Jan. 18th, 1959
Publisher: Viking