Reading Finnegans Wake

– critical books and other resources
innegans Wake Extensible Elucidation Treasury
A giant e-book of a web site, containing all sorts of elucidations, annotations, and possible meanings from all sorts of sources, continually expanded and updated by the ingenious and tireless Raphael Slepon, who is happy to accept suggestions from FWEET users .
Robert Motherwell Estate The James Joyce Scholar's Collection
edited by David Hayman
From the introduction:
"...they are valuable, perhaps indispensable, to those who seek a more complete understanding and appreciation of the richness of James Joyce's literary works."

several of which are on this list
A Classical Lexicon for Finnegans Wake
The Decentered Universe of Finnegans Wake: A Structuralist Analysis A Finnegans Wake Gazetteer
A First-Draft Version of Finnegans Wake
A Gaelic Lexicon for Finnegans Wake, and Glossary for Joyce's Other Works
James Joyce, the Citizen and the Artist
James Joyce and the Making of 'Ulysses', and Other Writings
Joyce-again's Wake: An Analysis of Finnegans Wake
A Lexicon of the German in Finnegans Wake
The Odyssey of Style in Ulysses
The Sigla of Finnegans Wake
Structure and Motif in Finnegans Wake
Third Census of Finnegans Wake
The "Wake" in Transit
Who's He When He's at Home: A James Joyce Directory
The Workshop of Daedalus
  Judd Staley's
Finnegans Wake: An Annotated Bibliography of Major Criticism
on this site.
The Finnegans Wake Notebooks at Buffalo
James Joyce

From the review by Faith Steinberg
(click here for complete review)
"The six notebooks which have been published, and future volumes, will be an invaluable resource for scholars and the serious amateur and are the beginning of a monumental and exhaustive undertaking including facsimile reproductions of the many notes and drafts which Joyce amassed during the 17 years in which he created the Wake."
A Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake - Joseph Campbell & Henry Morton Robinson Joseph Campgell and Henry Morton Robinson
A Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake
Penguin Books 1986

This is one of the most useful books for anyone exploring the Wake. By giving an abridged and usually plain-language version, it is at least a starting point. The critics' quibble is principally with the introductory statements and the footnotes which tend to interpret the Wake in terms of myth. Such interpretations are not wrong: they are just one of many valid ones. This is one of the four books you must have.

Annotations to Finnegans Wake - Roland McHugh Roland McHugh
Annotations to Finnegans Wake
Johns Hopkins University Press 1991

Geared to the Wake page by page, McHugh gives some of the literary and historical allusions, meanings of strange words, and some cross references gleaned from a variety of sources. It takes a little effort to learn how to use this book with ease, but it's worth it: it is vital to study of the Wake.

A Reader's Guide to Finnegans Wake - William York Tindall William York Tindall
A Readers Guide to Finnegans Wake
Farrar Straus and Giroux 1969

This is almost a paragraph-by-paragraph study, pointing out allusions, themes, and relevant biographical information. Although written in a breezy idiosyncratic way, it's packed with useful information.

The Books at the Wake - James S. Atherton James S. Atherton
The Books At the Wake
Arcturus 1974

A much more detailed examination of the literary sources Joyce used in the Wake than the previously listed books, this augments them.

The Finnegans Wake Experience - Roland McHugh Roland McHugh
The Finnegans Wake Experience
University of California Press 1981

Interesting for its coverage of extra-Wake material such as Joyce's notebooks, various scholarly works and the reading group experience, this volume should be read principally for the detailed analyses of two sections of the Wake.


Adaline Glasheen
Third Census of Finnegans Wake
University of California Press 1977

This is an exhaustive list of Wake personnages, fictional and real, with short descriptions and cross references.

James Joyce A to Z - Nicholas A. Fargnoli & Michael P. Gillespie A. Nicholas Fargnoli and Michael P. Gillespie
James Joyce A to Z
Facts on File 1995

Although it covers all of Joyce, it includes a great deal of useful Wake material both for the tyro and the advanced Wakean. Both this and Glasheen have valuable summaries of each chapter of the Wake.

  David Hayman, Editor
A First-Draft Version of Finnegans Wake
University of Texas Press, 1963

Although this might appear to be a tool only for advanced scholars of the Wake, it can clarify the text for all readers. Since Joyce, in reworking the initial draft, augmented and obscurified it, this first draft often has clearer uncoded versions which can be used to fathom the final text.

  Robert M. Adams
James Joyce: Common Sense and Beyond
Random House 1966

The sections on the Wake give an excellent overview.

  Bernard Benstock
Joyce-Again's Wake: An Analysis of Finnegans Wake
University of Washington Press 1965

Clive Hart
Structure and Motif in Finnegans Wake
Faber and Faber 1962

These two titles give sane and cogent interpretations of the whole Wake with some detailed analyses.

  Louis O. Mink
A Finnegans Wake Gazetteer
Indiana University Press, Bloomington and London, 1978.

So many of Mink's entries are in McHugh's Annotations to Finnegans Wake that this volume is almost unnecessary, but if one wants to go deeper into any of the areas, however, the Gazetteer can be helpful.
  Also useful . . .some on line... 
  The Bible
Oxford Dictionary of the English Language
The Koran
The Book of the Dead

Book of Kells
Writings of Giordano Bruno of Nola
Plays of Henrik Ibsen
Encyclopedia Brittannica, 11th edition
Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable
  A Wake Newslitter is available in CD-ROM format for both Mac and PC computers.  It contains the entire run of the publication, including the Occasional Papers and A Wake Digest. The publications are in PDF format, for which a free reader is available.