Finnegans Wake Takes off in China

Joyce’s ‘Finnegans Wake’ Takes Off in China

...Here in China, the first four pages of Chapter 9, “Scylla and Charybdis,” are read by Dai Congrong in Shanghai (there will also be a reading in Beijing) — though the translator of Joyce’s most difficult work, “Finnegans Wake,” says her contribution was prerecorded earlier this month. “I just sat down and read the book and someone recorded and also videoed it,” she said by telephone from Shanghai, where she is an associate professor of Comparative Literature at Fudan University.

Ms. Dai, 42, says there’s a real fascination with Joyce in China, as people search for new ways to express themselves in a fast-changing society.
A Joyce specialist who wrote her Ph.D. on the Irish author, Ms. Dai began translating “Finnegans Wake” in 2006. In December, she has published Book One (of four) of what is widely recognized as Joyce’s most difficult work, in a joint effort by Shanghai VI Horae Publishers, a private company, and Shanghai People’s Publishing House, a state-run company.
“I’m still working on Book Two. The progress is very slow,” she said. “You can’t translate ‘Finnegans Wake’ quickly, because I have to give footnotes for everything.”
The first, iconic sentence (“riverrun, past Eve and Adam’s, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs”) takes up three lines in Chinese but requires 17 lines of footnotes. The challenge began with the very first word: “riverrun.”

“I have to explain every word, as well as the cultural background and the alternative meanings,” she said.
“For example ‘riverrun’ could be ‘the river ran,’ and ‘reverend,’ and the German word ‘Erinnerung,’ ” or memory. “Because this book is about the meaning of memory and time, and why. So even the first word in the book you have to explain.”

“About 8 out of 10 of the words I have to write footnotes,” she said.

But the book’s mind-boggling complexity — native English speakers struggle with it and many have wondered if it was Joyce’s joke — doesn’t explain its popularity in China, where the first print run of 8,000 copies sold out within two months. Some have pointed to the way Joyce exploded hierarchy and meaning by tearing up language itself in the text when it was first published in 1939. It took 73 years to reach China in Chinese, but its message has appeal here today.


Once lost now found James Joyce to see daylight

James Joyce's 'last undiscovered' collection to be published

Ten 'epiclets' written after Ulysses in 1923, have been published together for the first time, causing a rift among scholars as to how they fit in to the Joyce canon

"Penned by Joyce in 1923, and described by the author as "epiclets", the pieces range from vignettes or sketches to more substantial short stories or fables, said Ithys Press, which publishes the work as Finn's Hotel this weekend – just in time for Bloomsday, the annual global celebration on 16 June of Joyce's masterpiece, Ulysses.--http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/jun/14/james-joyce-collection-published


The Believer interview with Alan Moore

(Believer Magazine) BLVR: Is magic’s most authentic expression through the creative imagination?

(Alan Moore) AM: Actually, art and magic are pretty much synonymous. I would imagine that this all goes back to the phenomenon of representation, when, in our primordial past, some genius or other actually flirted upon the winning formula of “This means that.” Whether “this” was a voice or “that” was a mark upon a dry wall or “that” was a guttural sound, it was that moment of representation. That actually transformed us from what we were into what we would be. It gave us the possibility, all of a sudden, of language. And when you have language, you can describe pictorially or verbally the strange and mystifying world that you see around you, and it’s probably not long before you also realize that, hey, you can just make stuff up. The central art of enchantment is weaving a web of words around somebody. And we would’ve noticed very early on that the words we are listening to alter our consciousness, and using the way they can transform it, take it to places we’ve never dreamed of, places that don’t exist.

When that enchantment is the creation of gods and the creation of mythology, or the kind in the practice of magic, what I believe one is essentially doing is creating metafictions. It’s creating fictions that are so complex and so self-referential that for all practical intents and purposes they almost seem to be alive. That would be one of my definitions of what a god might be. It is a concept that has become so complex, sophisticated, and so self-referential that it appears to be aware of itself. We can’t say that it definitely is aware of itself, but then again we can’t really say that about even our fellow human beings.--http://www.believermag.com/issues/201306/?read=interview_moore

Alan Moore reads from 'Masks of the Illuminati' by Robert Anton Wilson