Waywords and Meansigns: Recreating Finnegans Wake
70+ hours of what the James Joyce Centre in Dublin calls "delightful strangeness"
The idea was a simple enough question. How many ways are there to read James Joyce's great and bizarre novel Finnegans Wake?
To answer this question, we gathered a host of musicians and writers, artists and scholars, weirdos and generally adventurous people. We decided to set the book to music, creating something that is simultaneously an audiobook as well as musical adaptation.
Not wanting to to create a mere homage to Finnegans Wake, we set the entire book to music. We did it once, all 628 pages, and then did it again with a whole new cast of musicians and readers.
In the first two editions we divided the book into its seventeen chapters, with a different contributor assigned to each chapter. Contributors' only requirements were that the words be audible, unabridged, and more or less in their original order. To view our list of contributors, as well as find specific recordings, click here.
Our third edition debuted 2017 May 4. This will be our final group release, but we will continue to release individual contributions on an ongoing basis. We are now focused on short passages, a page or so in length.
If you would like to contribute to the project, please get involved. We are looking for all kinds of people to participate — anyone adventurous enough to join is invited.
Finnegans Wake is a weird book, and a difficult book. Joyce basically invented his own language in writing the book, and there is no obvious decoder to translate the text. Yet the book can also be quite fun.
By inviting people to record their own interpretations of the Wake, we hope to offer a version of Joyce's work that is stimulating, accessible, and enjoyable to casual as well as dedicated readers and listeners.
Waywords and Meansigns was co-founded in 2014 by Derek Pyle and Kelley Kipperman. Kelley left the project in early 2015, and Derek continues as project director. In the summer of 2015, Sara Jewell joined the project as design and communications specialist.
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