A Finnegans Wake Gaarden

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everal titles were considered for this project before selecting "A Finnegans Wake Gaarden." The idea of the title comes from the Scandinavian Elements of Finnegans Wake (p. 122) where we learn that "gaarden" is a play on the cognates garden and yard from the Danish "gaard."  In this garden/yard you will see real as well as fanciful vegetation. Suspend your notions about hardiness zones, water/soil requirements and companion planting.  "Whatacurss," "cucconut" and an "o'corneltree" grow side by side here. 

In fact, the "o'corneltree" as well as many other types of trees flourish in this imagined langscape (FW 595.4).  Many scholars have established the tree/stone as a major motif in the Wake.  Moreover, the letters of both the Modern Irish Alphabet and the Ancient Beth-Luis-Nion Alphabet signify the names of trees. The Modern Irish Alphabet  was used for the references in this paper. 

The reference source for this tree alphabet is Rev. Patrick S. Dinneen's An Irish-English Dictionary.  In A Gaelic Lexicon for Finnegans Wake (p. 125.), Brendan O Hehir notes that Dinny Finneen (FW 232.6) is "Prof. Dinneen who was a professor of Irish during Joyce's time at University.  Robert Graves (The White Goddess, NY:  Farrar Straus & Giroux, 1948, rpt. 1997 pp. 165 ff.) describes the Beth-Luis-Nion Alphabet. 

In addition to the tree/stone motif mentioned above, another important motif featuring natural elements is Joyce's inclusion of the sentence from Quinet (FW 281.4-13) and his subsequent refashionings of it.  Clive Hart in his essay on Joyce's use of this passage observes that  "Joyce was essentially an urban man....Nature in the Wordsworthian sense seems to have meant little to him, and although in Finnegans Wake river and mountain, flower and tree are for the first time used as major recurrent symbols, they are little more than stylized icons which rarely develop into sensuous living images....Mr. Frank Budgen insists that Joyce detested flowers and indeed even the graceful periwinkle, hyacinth and daisy of Quinet's sentence are prized more for the abstractions they embody than their sensuous qualities" (pp. 185-186). 

Even if everything growing in this Wake gaarden is an  "abstraction" - whether "graceful" or gawky - compiling these entries has been both informative and fun.  Annotating every entry in the Wake would have taken a "leaftime," (FW 88.34) so consider this something of a "work in progress" - something more than a laundry list but less than a "glozery farfused ameet the florahs of the follest" (FW 339.24-25).                                                         P.G.B. 

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