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Paperback A Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake : Unlocking James Joyce's Masterwork Book

ISBN: 1608681661

ISBN13: 9781608681662

A Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake : Unlocking James Joyce's Masterwork

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Book Overview

Countless would-be readers of 'Finnegans Wake' - James Joyce's 1939 masterwork, on which he labored for a third of his life - have given up after a few pages and "dismissed the book as a perverse triumph of the unintelligible." In 1944, a young professor of mythology and literature named Joseph Campbell, working with novelist and poet Henry Morton Robinson, wrote the first guide to understanding the fascinating world of 'Finnegans Wake'. Page by page,...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Birth, Conflict, Death, and Resurrection

A Sleleton Key to Finnegans Wake is a great way to unlock the master work of James Joyce. It gives the reader enough information about every chapter to open up the thousands of threads on every page. The reader can experience as much or as little of the puzzles, puns, and brilliance of the author as she wants. The avid reader may need a word by word translation of the novel in addition to the skeleton key.

Joyce, unravelled at last!

Everyone should read this book and wallow in James Joyce. This takes away all the fear your teachers and peers have instilled in you. A wonderful book, and a great read in itself, actually. just GET IT.

If you are looking for insight

The book is by far one of the best on Finnegans Wake. If you are or are not familiar with the story and James Joyce, this book with get you there. Insightful, keep your copy of Finnegans Wake beside you while you read Joseph Campbell's work and enjoy the ride.

Good fare

First, please accept my disclaimer for this review: I have been a fan of Joseph Campbell for many years. The objectivity may be lacking, therefore, in this assessment - freely admitted, and accept my apologies. Campbell spent ~4 years, if memory serves, on this book. He said he finally had to get away from the Wake because everything he read started to sound as though it was from the Wake. Having been an avid reader of Joyce for many years, Campbell's Key is to my mind THE definitive work on the Wake. Anyone can criticize another's work, and perhaps it is unreasonable to expect a critic to be as brilliant as the victim of his wiseacreing, but to my mind criticisms of this beautiful and inspired work are rather worthless. The Key is always my primary reference for the Wake. Annotations (Roland McHugh) is just a phone book of references; the Key is first-rate scholarship. Infallibility is not a requirement for brilliance, assuming there is merit to criticism of this work. But as Joseph Campbell would say, don't buy a book because it is said to be important; buy it because it "catches" you. Campbell's grasp of the Wake is a wonderful help to appreciating the Wake in less than a lifetime.

Still *the* book for entering the "Wake..."

This book still represents the single best "foray" into "Finnegans Wake" -- stepping mindfully but surefootedly through the entire riverrun of the text. Starting with an overview, "The Skeleton's Key" attempts to summarize the major "narrative events" of the "Wake." While Joyce scholars might (rightly...) argue the feasibility or advisability of such an approach, it still proves indispensible for the "novice...." Other books have perhaps surpassed it in their analysis of particular issues or themes within the text, but none have so gracefully and appreciatively unpacked the work as a whole. This and McHugh's "Annotations" can serve as an excellent "right- and left-hand pair" for tackling this under-appreciated work of brilliance...."
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