Finnegans Wake in Rhymes and Images

I was going to write some more on Anthony Burgess' Joysprick, because there were a lot of interesting tidbits in it, but then I found something so much better and Burgess will have to wait. You see, I was amused by the limerick-y advertisements Joyce wrote to promote some of his "Work in Progress" fragments from Finnegans Wake (he started to publish such fragments in 1927 and Finnegans Wake came out in 1939). For example, for the 1931 British edition of the fragment called Haveth Childers Everywhere, Joyce wrote:

           Humptydump Dublin squeaks through his norse,
           Humptydump Dublin hath a horriple vorse,
           And, with all his kinks english
           Plus his irishmanx brogues,
           Humptydump Dublin’s grandada of all rogues.

And for the 1930 edition of the Anna Livia Plurabelle fragment, he wrote:

           Buy a book in brown paper
           From Faber & Faber
           To see Annie Liffey trip, tumble and caper.
           Sevensinns in her singthings,
           Plurabelle on her prose,
           Seashell ebb music wayriver she flows.

These were meant to be dust jacket blurbs, but they apparently puzzled the publicity department of Faber & Faber (or Feebler & Fumbler, as Joyce called it). According to Richard Ellmann, they only used these blurbs in a publicity release and prefixed them with a statement of their puzzlement and Joyce's explanations of what the fragments were supposed to mean. (Which, by the way, didn't make Joyce very happy.)

So, amused by this story and determined to share it with you, I took to the internet to see if there are any pictures of these early Work in Progress books. And I found something exponentially better. I don't know if you've already seen Stephen Crowe's project to illustrate Finnegans Wake, but if you haven't, check it out right now. It is amazing. His drawings make me want to drop everything and start reading Finnegans Wake (from which I only read fragments) just to be able to enjoy all of them as much as I do the ones I recognize. I posted one of his images here to give you a sample of this project's awesomeness. I'm not sure about the copyright implications, but if you click on the picture, it takes you directly to his site, where you should go and admire the whole series.

Illustration to Finnegans Wake by Stephen Crowe


  1. This certainly makes me want to read Finnegans Wake! The pictures are so great - thanks for posting about them :)

    1. I know, they're amazing. I love the internet so much :)