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  • Foto do escritorDirce Waltrick Do Amarante

FO(U)R FINNEGANS WAKE READERS by Dirce Waltrick do Amarante

Atualizado: 17 de fev. de 2022

FO(U)R FINNEGANS WAKE READERS by Dirce Waltrick do Amarante

Finnegans Wake, as a dream, presents a fragmented language and narrative. Therefore, when reading the novel, the reader is invited to act on their own, creating a private reading, dreaming Joyce's dream according to their own experience. It could even be said that it is much more of a performance than a reading in the common sense of the term – this, as a rule, supposes a passive agent, which absorbs a message that is given to it ready-made. This is not the case with Finnegans Wake.

An example of a performance reading of Finnegans Wake would be that of the French novelist and critic Michel Butor, who read the novel opening the text here and there, stopping when some words, some sentences, some story or some dream were outlined for him, or attracted him, not bothering to obtain the total or linear apprehension of the book.

Another example of a performative apprehension of the novel is that of the American musician and poet John Cage, who opened the pages of Finnegans Wake at random and absorbed only certain words that seemed interesting to him. Having attended the book in this way, he then composed Writing for the Second Time Through Finnegans Wake, which is a summarized retelling of the novel, in the form of mesostics about the name of James Joyce and without respecting the standard English syntax used in Joyce's book. For Cage, syntax was associated (under the inspiration of Henry Thoreau) with a marching army troop.

In 1978, John Cage completed Roaratorio, a composition built from human voices, ambient sounds, noise, singing and music. Among these noises, Cage included a reading of his version of Finnegans Wake.

The Brazilian poet and translator Haroldo de Campos, when talking about reading the novel, opined that Finnegans Wake “retained the property of the circle, of the equidistance of all points in relation to the center: the work is porous to reading by any of the parts through which one seeks to harass there". It was what he and his brother Augusto de Campos did in Panaroma do Finnegans Wake, where they chose only some fragments of Finnegans Wake to translate into Portuguese. Jumping from one fragment to another is also a kind of performance reading.

On the same subject, Donaldo Schüler, translator of Joyce’s novel into Portuguese, understands that if “we paid attention to all the repercussions of the book, we would not leave the first paragraph”. Schüler says that the novel is a great symphony and you have to be prepared to listen to it as music.

Reading Joyce's latest novel also seems to imply something beyond the sense of sight used in ordinary reading. The writer advised reading aloud if the reader encountered any difficulty in understanding. Thus, the idea of ​​the book as a performance is reinforced, as it requires from those who read the use of other senses besides the one they were used to.

But, if on the one hand Joyce wanted to give freedom to the reader, on the other hand he also introduced “certain keys” or clues in the work that perhaps indicate the intention that the book should be read in a certain sense. It can be said, however, that the “sense” of Finnegans Wake is infinite, and it is up to the reader to place himself at the center of a network of inexhaustible relationships and choose for himself their degrees of approximation, their meeting points, and their scale of references.

Haroldo e Augusto de Campos

John Cage

Donaldo Schüler

Michel Butor

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