A second glance at The Restored Finnegans Wake

I just got The Restored Finnegans Wake ( http://t.co/CNA0Jxpn ) for my birthday, and although on first glance, I complained about it a little on my social networks ( https://twitter.com/rwhe/status/218453421353738241 ), on second glance, I’m beginning to appreciate the editors’ work.

I compared what Allforabit Funferall read on Sunday (116.11-117.09) in my usual edition and in the new one. The text is virtually identical. Apart from a pair of inserted commas and maybe one or two other minor punctuation changes in the new edition, there are a few small word changes, mostly in the direction of enriching the text, not impoverishing it as we had feared. Here they are (this is on pages 92-93 in the new edition):

1. “language of sweet tarts” becomes “tonguage of sweet tarts”

2. “lingo” becomes “iridated lingo”

3. “mouths of wickerchurchwardens” becomes “homosapuel mouths of
wickerchurchwardens”

4. “Here, Ohere, insult the fair!” becomes “Here, O here, insult the fair!”

Nice! Only change 4 is less Wakeanly obfuscated than we would expect. The rest I think Joyce would approve, if they are indeed his words at all.

He might even have approved change 4. I understand the editors have a hypertext genetic database of history and changes to the Wake that they plan to release, but for now we must see “dumb in his glass darkly”.

Actually, the text is remarkably clear, despite the very few changes. It’s a new experience to read the Wake so beautifully typeset. I believe that’s what gave me the impression of reading Ulysses by mistake; my workaday Penguin edition (circa 1987) is so cramped and murkily typeset (not to mention yellowed, though that’s not the dear old thing’s fault) that it’s a slight struggle to make out words. In the new (I’m still not willing to call it “restored”) edition, even though there is more text on each page, there is a feeling of lightness and easiness when reading the book.

This new edition swings.

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