I’ve taken my title from a study of James Joyce by the English novelist Anthony Burgess (He wrote A Clockwork Orange), who took the title from Joyce’s final, some would say unreadable book, Finnegan’s Wake.  It is testament to Joyce’s almost frightening creative force, to his gallery of Dubliners and the flurry of distinct voices we hear in his work.

Last week’s class focused on “After the Race”, which begins with an early racing car speeding into Dublin city, and ends on a yacht in Kingstown harbour (now Dun Laoghaire).  Over 4 short pages, we get a picture of early 20th century European technological advances driven by innovation and commercial strength, contrasted with the “poverty” of Dublin’s “gratefully oppressed” inhabitants.  For Joyce, Dublin was the “centre of paralysis”, subject to the British empire and the Catholic church.  The story was difficult but with careful reading and plenty of talk the class got through it together, and everyone had an opinion and something interesting to say.

Next Wednesday, we’ll be doing some acting, as we take on a scene from perhaps the most famous play of the last 60 years – Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot.  Beckett began writing under the influence of Joyce, but later said it was impossible to go any further than Joyce had done.  Instead of putting everything into his art, he decided to leave out as much as possible, to stress what he didn’t know, and what he couldn’t do.

Check out this link to get an idea of what you’re in for:


See you on Wednesday