Finnegans Wake: WTF is this dude talking about? A guide to understanding James Joyce’s confusing AF book

San Dimas, CA — Yo, what’s good? I’m just chillin’ here, reading this book my lit teacher assigned, Finnegans Wake. And I gotta say, I’m not really feeling it. Like, I don’t know what the dude who wrote this, James Joyce, was tryna say. But I’ll give it a shot, I guess.

So, it starts off with this dude, Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker, and his wife, Anna Livia Plurabelle. They’re like, this old couple living in Dublin or something. And they’re like, super tired and trying to sleep, but they can’t cuz there’s this noise outside their window. It’s like, some dude singing and playing a banjo or something.

And then it gets real weird, cuz the dude starts talking in this super complicated language. Like, I can’t even understand what he’s saying half the time. It’s all like, “the fall (bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonnerronntuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthurnuk!)” And I’m just like, what the hell is this dude talking about?

And then it starts switching between different characters, telling different stories. Like, there’s this one part where it’s talking about this dude who’s like, a king or something, and he’s trying to figure out what his name is. And then it switches to this other dude who’s like, a barkeep or something, and he’s talking about how he’s always drunk.

It’s honestly just a lot to take in, ya know? Like, I get that it’s supposed to be like, stream of consciousness or whatever, but it’s just too much for me. And it’s not even like, relatable or anything. It’s just this dude, rambling on and on in this weird language.

And then it gets even weirder, cuz it starts talking about like, the history of Dublin and the mythology and stuff. Like, there’s this part where it talks about this dude, Finnegan, who falls off a ladder and dies. But then he comes back to life cuz they pour whiskey on him. I’m like, what the actual hell?

It’s like, I’m trying to read this book, but I just can’t get into it. It’s just not relatable to me, ya know? Like, I get that it’s supposed to be like, symbolic or whatever, but it’s just not hitting home for me.

I don’t know, maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m not smart enough to understand it. But I just can’t get into it. The language is so hard to follow, and I don’t really care about these characters or their stories. I’m just gonna have to tell my teacher that this book ain’t for me.

Justin Henton
Justin Henton
Meet Justin Henton, an average teenage boy from Southern California. He's the ultimate dude, who loves to surf, play guitar, and hang out with his buds. He's always down for a good time and can often be found at the beach catching waves or shredding the gnar at the local skatepark. He's also a big fan of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, and often speaks like them, using phrases like "dude" and "most excellent" frequently. He attends a public high school in Southern California and is on the school's surf team, he's a pretty good student, but sometimes struggles with math. He's got a crush on a girl in his class and is trying to work up the courage to ask her out. Justin is living the SoCal dream, enjoying the good weather and the beach culture, always looking for a good time and spreading positivity wherever he goes.

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