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Publisher's Summary

"Riverrun past Eve and Adam’s, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs...." 

So starts Finnegans Wake, the greatest challenge in 20th-century literature. Who is Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker? And what did he get up to in Phoenix Park? And what did Anna Livia Plurabelle have to say about it? In the rich nighttime and the language of dreams, here are history, anecdote, myth, folk tale and, above all, a wondrous sense of humor, colored by a clear sense of humanity. In this exceptional reading by the Irish actor Barry McGovern, with Marcella Riordan, the world of the Wake is more accessible than ever before. 

©1975 The Trustees of the Estate of James Joyce (P)2021 Naxos AudioBooks

What listeners say about Finnegans Wake

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The keys to. Given!

Finnegans Wake is probably one of the most unconventional works of literature ever written. It demands so much from the reader but offers plenty of rewards, surprises, and even intense euphoric moments that all justify the effort. On the surface the sentences may appear to be gibberish since each word contains multiple meanings and is constructed like the nucleus of an atom. However, a deeper reading reveals thousands of different stories and layers being told at once, rewarding the reader again and again in a process of exciting discovery. One can spend the rest of his or her life reading and rereading the book and even then, there will be many secrets that will remain hidden for future readers to find.

This audiobook is a miracle in that it effectively provides keys to unlocking many of the novel’s treasure chests through a very careful and passionate reading by Barry McGovern and Marcella Riordan. The narrators seem very tuned in to the novel’s uniquely Irish voice, and the pace of their narration is perfect, not too fast but enough to keep the listener engaged. Pronouncing the words and keeping their flow requires a lot of talent, and I’m so thankful both narrators excel with flying colors. I have been searching most of my adult life for recordings of the book to listen to again and again and am just thrilled this audiobook is now available to the public on Bloomsday. James Joyce scholars have recommended reading the novel aloud to help guide the reader but this audiobook does all of that for you in the most extraordinary way. You won’t understand everything in the novel at first, but the more you allow its voice to sink in, the more like music the words will become.

For those up for the challenge of tackling this novel, a lifetime of pleasures awaits you!

50 people found this helpful

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A lifetime wish fulfilled

Finnegans Wake has been my deepest heart puzzle and research project since finding it as a teenager in 1967. To have a recording of the ENTIRE Wake performed by voice actors with this level of Comprehension, Stamina and Soul means I'm not coming out of my reading room again. Ever.
Released on Bloomsday! Thank you all so much for proving it can be done.

25 people found this helpful

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Great performance of an unreadable book

Life is too short to read Finnegans Wake. It is incomprehensible gobbledegook. I stuck with it only to finish the Modern Library’s 100 greatest novels of the 20th century. But if you are going to read it I highly recommend this performance; it made this monstrosity almost tolerable.

15 people found this helpful

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The seim anew.

McGovern and Riordan do a great job of bringing this challenging work to life. I was particularly impressed by Riordan’s work on the Anna Livia Plurabelle chapter, the lessons chapter (she reads Issy’s footnotes), and the conclusion of book IV. I listened to it while reading along, which helped because I was able to see words where the pronunciation was ambiguous. Hearing the Wake aloud gives new levels of comprehension. If you want to try Finnegans Wake, this is a great way. It’s also a great way for experienced readers to hear it anew. I will definitely be coming back to it. For future readings, it would be great if there were a way to skip to each of the 17 chapters instead of just the four books. The next time through I’ll write down the times so I can find particular sections more easily.

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Extraordinary

For longtime lovers of Finnegans Wake as for those diving in for the first time, this reading is a precious, moving accompaniment. “Lots of fun…”

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The most entertaining experience of the year...

You will hear that Finnegans Wake is a difficult read, if not impossible. Instead of reading it, try experiencing it through the voices of Barry McGovern and Marcella Riordan. They bring to life what, at first reading, appears to be gibberish.

I think of Finnegans Wake as a story being dictated from a dream, complete with all you would expect from a dream; a stream of consciousness tale linking word and thought associations with double and tripple entendres. There is singing, there is prose, and there is poetry; there is a rhythm in a lot of the book that the narrators bring out nicely.

If you ever had a dream where everybody you ever met and everything you ever experienced got linked together, along with all the coincidences that ever happened in your life and you had the task of putting them all into one story, it just might turn out like Finnegans Wake. This was indeed the most enteraining experience of the year...

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pro tip

Slow it to .80/.85 speed. It will aid you in this quest. I can hear it now...but still have no idea what's going on...

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difficult yet worthwhile.

This is by far the most complex audiobook I have ever heard. It's hard to truly understand what the heck you even listened to thankfully Brian mcguffins and Marcella Riordan did an excellent narration. I don't think I could have gotten through it if I hadn't gone with the audiobook version. Book one still makes my mind hurt. The other books were much more comprehensible to me. I will definitely have to come back to this book and give it another go through to truly appreciate this masterpiece. The book is filled with lots of quotable quotes. There were times that I was reminded of gravity's rainbow and the illuminatus both of which are obtuse books but nowhere near as obtuse as Finnegan's wake.

1 person found this helpful

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  • A
  • 07-01-21

Finally! Allmaziful!

I have been waiting for years for this. The abridged recording with Jim Norton was brilliant, but you struggled to read along with it because of the abridgment. From what I have listened to so far, Barry McGovern reads in a more restrained manner than Norton, but equally effectively. Marcella Riordan does ALP in her characteristically languid manner, which is most effective in the final monologue. The BIG issue I have is that the audible release has only four chapters, one for each section - not even the chapters within each section, unlike the CD release which is properly tracked. For a 29 hour recording in Wakese, this makes finding individual sections impossible. Hopefully this can be rectified at some stage - or at least a timing list provided. [Edit]: this has been rectified, there are now chapters for each section within each part. Thank you.

9 people found this helpful

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  • elizabeth murton
  • 08-02-21

Untangling the web of Finnegan’s wake.

When I first started reading Finnegan’s wake, the main advice I received was ‘read it aloud and get a feel for the rhythm, I found it difficult to decipher the text amongst all the portmanteau words and dense phraseology and could not find that rhythm however I stuck at it and finally started to unravel its mysteries. to me Finnegan’s wake is a book of great importance, even just in an experimental capacity no other author has come close. I just want to say a big thank you to all who endeavoured to take on the leviathan challenge of turning it into an audio book. I have thoroughly enjoyed listening to it and it has helped me untangle some of the web of Finnegan’s wake. My advice to anyone starting out would be yes listen to it, take full advantage of the audiobook , it’s a very good start but also get a copy and read it as well, and don’t go in alone! take the ‘skeleton key of Finnegan’s wake’ or ’a readers guide to Finnegan’s wake by William York Tindall ‘ thank you once more, an adoring fan of all that is Joyce x

5 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-11-21

Onetwo moremens more...

A work of art does not need to be understood, more experienced. So said Christopher Nolan when talking about Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, and like that work of art, Finnegans Wake is basically evocative of the cyclical births and rebirths of humanity. Joyce's work, all of it, deserves to be heard read aloud, and the Wake is the apotheosis. Endlessly rhythmic and musical, at times it seems like the listener is carried away by multiple overlapping and interwoven conversations late in a never ending night in an unnamed pub in Chapelizod, and as the streams of whiskey flow and carry the steams of talking and thinking to the Irish sea of oblivion, it forms a dream within a dream of a dream ad absurdum deliriously detailing the fall and rise of humanity told through all its mythologies concurrently. When listened to and read from the book, dipping in and out at leisure, in and out of consciousness, this forms an experience of a work of art quite unlike any other.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Drosselmeyer
  • 09-12-21

A tour de force that will never be equalled

Hard to believe that there is now an audiobook version of this most ‘difficult’ of movies. And the performances - of both the main narrator, Barry McGowan, and Marcella Riordan are nothing short of terrific. Just wonderful to allow Joyce’s soundworld wash over you.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Jonathan West
  • 07-10-21

Excellent

Beautifully read by Barry McGovern. I've been looking for a way into the Wake for 40 years and very happy to have found it. McGovern sweeps you into the novel's extraordinary flow. A masterpiece, pure and simple.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Stephen Evans
  • 05-15-22

Great interpretation of a work that has a reputati

The performance is brilliant and takes alot of the work away from interpreting the sound of the text.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-13-22

A masterpiece

The magic of this book is incredibly strong, and if you do really enjoy it you will have a friend for life :). An immensely comforting book which really opened my own mind to me, every sentence took me to places I’ve been, places I haven’t and we’re very funny. The ending truly reflected just on an amazing journey, tearful beauty, great relaxing narration too!! Joyce is not an author, but an inventor of genius! If you read Dostoevsky, it will always be the same. If you read Tolstoy, it will always be the same. If you read Joyce, it will always be different :,).

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-08-22

Amazing!

Finnegans wake as an audiobook, who thought it could be possible!? Magnificent performance, beautifully read.

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  • John Mark
  • 05-08-22

Wonderful reading.

This is such a wonderful presentation of FW, Barry McGovern's lyrical reading is excellent and Marcella Riordan seems to have a knack of drawing out pictures from the words, brilliant. Just to listen to her from "soft morning, city..." onwards is worth getting this for.
This was my first reading ofFW and I read along with the audio. Great place to start as the initial difficulty with Joyce's languages, dissappear because of their skills of reading. If you're a bit unsure of starting FW I whole heartedly recommend this presentation. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed FW, Joyce really is at the top of his game with this one. I never thought I'd say FW is one of my favourite novels. It took me 33 years to read Ulysses and a week to read this.

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  • Yukie Fukuzumi
  • 02-20-22

The unreadable made audible?

Story is not quite the word. But what a reading! The playfulness, humour and lyricism all captured beautifully.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-18-22

Challenging but worthwhile

This is an excellent reading of a truly impenetrable novel. Many of the secrets of this novel are revealed only on relistenings.

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  • James
  • 10-02-21

A Brilliant Failure

The narrators are excellent. Joyce is one of the greatest authors of all time, but this novel is a waste of effort to my mind. Ive listened to all 20 something hours and tried to read it several times and I am still little wiser about what is going on in it.