Posted by: Mark | June 1, 2017

Finnegans Wake: Chapter 15

How lost am I with this book? I finished what I thought was Chapter 14 only to have it be Chapter 15. It didn’t cause it to make any more or less sense.

Back when I was in grade school, I read the original Dr. Doolittle by Hugh Lofting and, by original, I mean the version that contained racist language. I had never encountered the word “niggeress” before and thought the characters had lost their minds. Lofting’s grandson claimed that Hugh didn’t know what words were offensive and what weren’t. I wouldn’t have believed him but (1) he was overjoyed that Eddie Murphy was taking the role, thinking it would help balance out the books, and (2) Robert Browning believed the word “twat” was a synonym for “hat,” causing one of his poems to focus on an old nun’s twat.

A few chapters ago in Finnegans Wake , I was surprised that Joyce casually used the word “nigger” but this chapter he used “niggeress.” I honestly thought that Lofting made that up but apparently it was standard for English and Irish (and most likely American) speakers.

The world was a sadder, stupider place than I imagined. With 63 pages left to go, I have to wonder what will be next.


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