Saturday, June 18, 2011

Old Hods Can Raise New Tricks

I've always felt FW translations tried to tame the book somehow. After succeeding at punning with two or three possible meanings for a word, the translator usually leaves the others outside his work even if he knows they were there in the original.

So I've conceived of the following trick to translate the Wake: whenever I cannot put any more meaning into the words, I draw them. Above you read the book's most famous words, "riverrun, past Eve and Adam's" written in Elian script. I translated them into Portuguese as "reverrio, passadelos eva e o √°damas". Reverrio does quite well for the German Erinnerung ( rever means "to see again" ), but it does not convey that riverrun sounds kinda like river-Ann and reminds us of ( well, at least insomniac FW scholars do ) a well-known passage in Kubla Khan: "In Xanadu did Kubla Khan/ A stately pleasure-dome decree:/ Where Alph, the sacred river, ran". Well, besides of the fact that my reverrio looks slightly like a woman, if you tilt your head you'll notice I drew something between a baseline Helvetica A and an eerie Borgesian Alef.


  1. Hello. I was wondering if you could tell me who is the author of the marginalia in the background image.

  2. I really liked your use of the Kubla Khan for the riverrun reference.

  3. Denis Rose wrote this the marked-up copy I use as my background image for his new (expensive) edition of Finnegans Wake ( ). The colors and the notes come from the (*really* expensive ) Finnegans Wake notebooks at Buffalo. Conley wrote a review of Rose's edition: