Joyce's Rare View
The Nature of Things in Finnegans Wake

Richard Beckman

Foreword by Sebastian D. G. Knowles, Series Editor
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"Beckman has mastered a staggering array of source materials and humanities disciplines to provide this survey. It is a lucid and profound contribution to the literature in this area."--Michael J. O'Shea, editor, Studies in Short Fiction

"Offers many, many penetrating and persuasive readings of different passages in
Finnegans Wake, and does so in a lucid, lively, and engaging style."--John Gordon, Connecticut College

"Beckman has written a wonderfully wise book, with a critical and sensitive eye, a book that delights in close reading, and holds everywhere a philosopher's detachment from his subject."--Sebastian D. G. Knowles, Ohio State University

Richard Beckman argues that readers of Finnegans Wake must develop a new method of reading that flows from the text itself. Focusing on the mode of perception in the Wake--seeing the world obliquely because that is often the only way to get at the nature of things--Beckman maintains that Joyce's satire depends on looking at the public scene from behind, a view at the same time vaudevillian and philosophic.

Indirect perception is at once the basis for Joyce's peculiar locutions, conveying incompatible double and triple meanings, and also an account of how the mind works. Thus, Beckman shows, the object world in the Wake is as unstable as a troubled dream, accessible only by glimpses and guesses at suspected overtones of significance. If the Wake shows only the wrong side of things, this perception hardly belongs to the Wake alone, but Beckman maintains that no other text has presented this idea with such imitative power, applied it to life so energetically, or wrung so much humor from it. In the Wake, Joyce has made his case for choosing the wrong and even oddball way of considering the human situation--as opposed to the ever-present culture of received opinions--and he creates a book of life that goes nowhere and everywhere, doubling back on itself, methodically seeing things the wrong way, and conjuring up characters, events, and meanings that are inherently reversible.

Written for students of the Wake and Joyce scholars and critics seeking innovative commentary that renders familiar passages fresh, Joyce's Rare View offers new, close readings of a myriad of passages and phrases in the Wake, illuminating many of the themes of this encyclopedic satire.

Richard Beckman is professor emeritus in the department of English at Temple University.

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" Even neophyte readers willing to take on the challenge will certainly find something to reward them, for Beckman's book offers numerous pathways into Joyce's last work and is characterized by diversions in the two principal senses of the word."
--English Literature in Transition

"Beckman's scholarship and style are exemplary."
--Modern Language Review

"A fine and remarkable contribution to Wake studies."
--James Joyce Quarterly

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