“My Brother Thomas Will Now Recite For You The Entire Novel Finnegans Wake By James Joyce.”

That clip is 7:23 minutes long, and I found myself smiling ear to ear for the entirety of it. It is perfection. The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem and Robbie O’Connell singing “Finnegans Wake”, with an amazing introduction. The whole thing is really an ode to whiskey (the “water of life” in Irish). I have read Finnegans Wake (some thoughts on it here), and I do know that it helped to read it out loud. “Helped”? That’s an understatement. It is meant to be read out loud. It is meant to be heard. But listening to Tom Clancy recite it … you realize it’s a whole other ballgame.

Anyway. My comments are not the point. The point is to watch the clip.

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6 Responses to “My Brother Thomas Will Now Recite For You The Entire Novel Finnegans Wake By James Joyce.”

  1. kellyofsiam says:

    I just graduated high school in June 1963 when I discovered the Clancys & Makem..(also B. Dylan). My life was never the same. I learned to laugh at the world & myself. Thanks for this.

  2. sheila says:

    wonderful, aren’t they? The music of my childhood – they have always been there. But Youtube is so great because there is so much stuff on there – stuff I have never seen. I’ve only HEARD these guys, now I can see them!

  3. nightfly says:

    I recently read that Joyce dictated part of Finnegan’s Wake to Samuel Beckett. A visitor, stopping to see Jocye, knocked on the door during one of these sessions, and Joyce called “Come in,” to his visitor. Beckett, concentrating dearly, wrote the words “Come in” right into the manuscript – and Joyce, upon hearing the passage read back to him, kept them there. Have no idea if it’s true or not, though.

  4. sheila says:

    Nightfly – Okay, that is a totally awesome story and I am choosing to believe it.

    And then there’s this hilarity.

    My favorite story about FW is the one about Joyce, in the final stages of the manuscript, which he had been working on for 17 years. It was finally at the publishers’, so they would come back with edits (how on earth do you EDIT that book??), and he would then start to edit, and then of course have to rewrite the whole thing again – That book cannot be considered “done”. It was published at the stage that it was at that moment in time. Joyce would have worked on it forever. But anyway, third batch of edits, fourth – close to publication date now – A friend came over, looked at Joyce huddled over his manuscript of scribbles, and asked, “Jim, what on earth are you doing now?” Joyce replied, “Adding commas.”

    Oh, Jimmy.

  5. nightfly says:

    Adding commas! Love it. (And the pitch n’ putt short is fantastic.)

  6. Charles J. Sperling says:

    I like to say that I brogued my way through *Finnegans Wake.*

    By which I mean ter say (as Joe “What Larks!” Gargery would put it), that I read twenty pages aloud each night until I was finished. As *Time* said of Virginia Woolf’s novels in an obituary piece, “parts of them didn’t make sense, but parts of them did, and some of them almost made music.”

    That said, the best preparation for it is probably *The National Lampoon’s* Sean Kelly parody, “Finns Awake Agin,” collected in *This Side of Parodies.* Highlights:

    Pen and oink for this purl of a poet! (Footnote: Purl to you, brow-beaten knitters.)

    Will he shake a spear when he’s donne with da foe?

    I’m afreud he was a little too jung and adlerpated.

    Others he had archy type.

    Up an atom! Gone nuclear fission?

    It’s the woeman’s libation moment and erehwon go braless!

    For an interesting spin on Joyce and his indebtedness to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, see Samuel Rosenberg’s *Naked Is the Best Disguise.*

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