‘Three Score and Ten toptypsical readings’

Charles Peake

  • Annotations to ‘Finnegans Wake’ by Roland McHugh
    Routledge, 628 pp, £17.95, October 1980, ISBN 0 7100 0661 6

‘Because it’s there’ may be sufficient motive for the intrepid, but many are disheartened by the laborious hours needed to reach a position even to attempt an assault on Finnegans Wake. For such timid aspirants and for those in the early stages of fascination, Roland McHugh’s book, presenting information gathered by earlier explorers (including himself), will save months of preparatory toil. For those already deeply engaged, the Annotations will clear up some difficulties, point to some missed connections, give reassurance that no known layer of significance or allusion has been overlooked, and draw attention to areas still comparatively blank: ‘Hic sunt lennones!’ As McHugh must have foreseen, these are the readers who will welcome his book with the severest eye, and will send lists of corrections and suggestions for the second and subsequent editions. He has drawn on the work, published and unpublished, of fellow Joyceans, and can now properly count on their continued collaboration, having, as it were, made himself minute-secretary to the Here Comes Everybody society.

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