Friday, February 6, 2015

Obscurity in literature

Fresh off of The Waste Land, I am sure we can all attest to it being one of the more difficult pieces on literature we have had to read at St. Martin's, due to its allusory nature; however, in the context of obscure literature, there is one piece that is the arguably the king of them all: James Joyce's Finnegans Wake. Notice even the intentional lack of apostrophe in the title. It's been called the non-homogeneous partial differential equations of literature. Also, if aesthetics were valued as the supreme concern of literary criticism, some speculate that it would be something like the Iliad of our time. I myself have read through approximately the first 90 pages with a guide published by William York Tyndall, who notes that there may only be two characters in the entire story, with the others just as "reflections" of the two. Macroscopically, the book follows a cyclical structure, beginning in the middle of the sentence that the last sentence of the book starts. Even Ezra Pound--who loved Ulysses, and to whom Eliot dedicated The Waste Land--thought the book was nuts. Here's a more readable excerpt. Enjoy, ye masochists!

"The fall (bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonnerronntuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthurnuk!) of a once wallstrait older is retaled early in bed and later on life down through all christian minstrelsy. The great fall of the offwall entailed at such short notice the pftjschute of Finnegan, ease solid man, that the humptyhillhead of humself prumptly sends an unquiring one well to the west in quest of his tumptytumtoes: and their upturnpikepointandplace is at the knock out in the park where oranges have been laid to rust upon the green since devlinsfirst loved livvy." -Book 1, paragraph 2.

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