Books about Finnegans Wake announce their forms with unusual regularity: skeleton keys, plot summaries, reader’s guides, first-draft versions, lexicons, gazetteers, censuses, genetic guides, annotations, and more. Every form offers a particular route through the Wake, and we hope our collective efforts add up to a cartography of possibilities. But until now we have never been issued an “invitation” to the Wake. Many readers of this journal will realize that they must have invited themselves uncouthly to the Wake long ago, and some will imagine that it is too late for invitations when one has already been at the party for so long. Indeed, Philip Kitcher’s Joyce’s Kaleidoscope seems addressed to daunted would-be readers (and to be priced for readers rather than only libraries) or to passionate enthusiasts like Kitcher himself, rather than to Joyce scholars. Because Kitcher addresses a general audience and shrinks from engaging current discussions of Finnegans Wake, Joyce scholars may find his book of limited relevance to their own critical concerns. It is, however, a work of creativity and intelligence, and rookies and veterans alike might profitably respond to its implicit imperative: répondez s’il vous plait.
Document Object Identifier (DOI)
Rando, D. (2008). [Review of the book Joyce's Kaleidoscope: An Invitation to "Finnegans Wake," by P. Kitcher]. James Joyce Quarterly, 45, 600-603. doi: 10.1353/jjq.0.0098
James Joyce Quarterly