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The Death of the BookModernist Novels and the Time of Reading$
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John Lurz

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780823270972

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823270972.001.0001

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The Dark Print of Finnegans Wake

The Dark Print of Finnegans Wake

(p.81) Chapter 3 The Dark Print of Finnegans Wake
The Death of the Book

John Lurz

Fordham University Press

This chapter shows how Joyce’s later novel not only trains its focus on the printed body of the book itself but also significantly figures its printed letters as holes in its pages. Drawing on John Bishop’s influential reading of the Wake as Joyce’s “book of the dark,” I argue that the work’s multi-lingual puns and portmanteaux—along with its typographical play—highlight the role of its “dark print” in literary mediation. My reading takes shape around the discovery and exploration of a fragmented letter that acts as one ambiguous center for the swirl of the Wake’s obscure narratives. As Finnegans Wake connects its emphasis on both the letter and its letters with overt and extended meditations on death, the finitude implied in physical embodiment that ends my discussion of Ulysses begins to extend to the book itself and, to use a Wakean pun, becomes “literally” explicit.

Keywords:   finitude, Finnegans Wake, James Joyce, letters, print

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