Joyce's Kaleidoscope

Joyce's Kaleidoscope : An Invitation to Finnegans Wake

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James Joyce's Ulysses, once regarded as obscure and obscene, is now viewed as one of the masterpieces of world literature. Yet Joyce's final novel, Finnegans Wake, to which he devoted seventeen years, remains virtually unread, except by scholarly specialists. Its linguistic novelties, apparently based on an immense learning that few can share, make it appear impenetrable.

Joyce's Kaleidoscope attempts to dissolve the darkness and to invite lovers of literature to engage with Finnegans Wake. Philip Kitcher proposes that the Wake has at its core an age-old philosophical question, "What makes a life worth living?", and that Joyce explores that question from the perspective of someone who feels that a long life is now ending. So the complex dream language is a way of investigating issues that are hard to face directly; the reader is
invited to struggle with the novel's aging dreamer who seeks reassurance about the worth of what he has done and been. Joyce finds his way to reassurance. The sweeping music and the high comedy of Finnegans Wake celebrate the ordinary doings of ordinary people. With great humanity and a distinctive brand of humanism, Joyce points
us to the things that matter in our lives. His final novel is a festival of life itself.

From this perspective, the supposedly opaque, or nonsensical, language opens up as a rich source for the reader's reflections: though readers won't all approach it the same way, or with the same set of references, there is meaning in it for everyone. Kitcher's detailed study of the entire text brings out its musical resonances and its musical structures. It analyzes the novel overall while bringing deep insight to the reading of key individual passages. This engaging guide will aid readers not
just to make sense of the novel, but to relish the remarkable accomplishment of Joyce's least appreciated work.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 332 pages
  • 155 x 236 x 21mm | 476g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • New
  • 0195321030
  • 9780195321036
  • 772,697

Table of contents

Acknowledgements ; Awakening ; So soft this morning, ours ; His reignbolt's shot ; Respectable ; Nayman of Noland ; Crossmess parzel ; Life's robulous rebus ; Three score and ten toptypsical readings ; The hubbub caused in Edenborough ; The unfacts, did we possess them, are too imprecisely few to warrant our certitude ; Everybody heard their plaint ; Tell me more ; Loud, heap miseries upon us ; The tasks above are as the flasks below ; From Liff away ; The four of us and sure, thank God, there are no more of us ; A picture primitive ; Lightbreakfastbringer ; Arise, sir ghostus! ; Male and female, unmask we hem ; The keys to. Given!
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Review quote

Kitcher begins Joyce's Kaleidoscope by asking the right question: not 'What does each word mean?' but 'What meaning does our experience of reading convey?' This will find an elegant and satisfactory answer if we accept this invitation to a spiraling tour of the book. The 'passkey' has been given; just 'mind your hats goan in!' * Jean-Michel Rabate, University of Pennsylvania * Kitcher has an important reading of Finnegans Wake to present, and his is an ideal way into the book for those who have heretofore been too timid to attempt it. * Kevin J. H. Dettmar, Pomona College * This book performs the remarkable feat of making the pleasures of Finnegans Wake enticing to the general reader. . . . An irresistible invitation to Finnegans Wake, Joyce's Kaleidoscope also appeals to experienced readers by illuminating the humanity of Joyce's vision. * Maud Ellmann, University of Notre Dame *
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About Philip Kitcher

Currently John Dewey Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University, Philip Kitcher is a former President of the American Philosophical Association (Pacific Division), a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and is also the first recipient of the Prometheus Prize of the American Philosophical Association. His previous books include The Advancement of Science (OUP); The Lives to Come: The Genetic Revolution and Human
Possibilities; Science, Truth, and Democracy (OUP); In Mendel's Mirror; and Finding an Ending: Reflections on Wagner's Ring.
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Rating details

20 ratings
4.1 out of 5 stars
5 40% (8)
4 35% (7)
3 20% (4)
2 5% (1)
1 0% (0)
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