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A Seattle man is memorizing Finnegans Wake for some reason.

Dan Sheehan

December 4, 2019, 4:14pm

As reported by Seattle alt-weekly The Stranger earlier today, a pianist in the city is in the process of memorizing one of the most notoriously unreadable books of the 20th century: James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake. Why would anyone do this, you ask? Well, composer and pianist Neal Kosaly-Meyer was entranced by the musicality of Joyce’s genius-gibberish when he first encountered the book nearly thirty years ago. Then, in 1987, he began performing the first chapter for guests at his apartment and a quarter century later, upon realizing that no one in the whole wide world was memorizing the book in its entirety, Kosaly-Meyer decided to undertake the herculean (and deeply necessary) task himself:

“I decided to learn 37 pages a year … That would be a page a week [with some breaks]. Learning it at that rate, it would take 17 years… I was 54 at this point. This meant I’d be 71 years old when I’m done. No time to fuck around at my age. I had to get on it right away.”

How unreadable is Joyce’s experimental 1939 novel, exactly? Well in truth I have not read it, mostly owing to its intimidating reputation, but here’s a sample line: “I was babbeing and yetaghain bubbering, bibbelboy, me marrues me shkewers me gnaas me fiet, tob tob tob beat it, solongopatom.”

So, yeah, best of luck with that, Neal.

 

[via The Stranger]

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