James Joyce's Ulysses
Home > Finnegans Wake – Complete Editions

Having completed his "day" book, Ulysses, Joyce turned to the composition of a "night" book, Finnegans Wake, which he referred to only as "Work in Progress," and upon which he labored for the next seventeen years. The Wake, which first appeared in 1939, at the outbreak of WWII, is, among other things, a dream history of the world, told in the language of the subconscious, where all words become worlds of meaning.

Finnegans Wake. London: Faber and Faber; New York: Viking, 1939. First edition. One of 425 numbered copies, signed by Joyce. Finnegans Wake is unquestionably the most difficult and obscure work of fiction ever written. Even his closest friends felt he had gone too far. In spite of Joyce's hope that the average man in the street would understand it if it were simply read aloud to him, it is a novel that no one has ever grasped fully. Yet, like Ulysses, it has continued to intrigue and engage scholars around the world.
Facsimile edition of Arno Schmidt's annotated copy of Finnegans Wake. Zürich: Arno Schmidt Stiftung, 1984. First edition, one of 100 copies given free to public research libraries. Arno Schmidt, "the German James Joyce," spent his lifetime bringing works of Joycean complexity and originality to German readers. This facsimile of his copy of Finnegans Wake reveals how deeply he studied the novel. Schmidt's monumental novel Zettels Traum bears a direct relationship to the Wake. An unusual insight into the German author's works is provided by the Lilly's collection of the papers of John E. Woods, his American translator.