Hypertextuality in Finnegans Wake

Hypertextuality in Finnegans Wake


There is no apex of study for Finnegans Wake. Readers should be looking towards hypertextual references, or imagined connections based off of previous elucidations to further study the Wake. Reading the Wake should consist of searching for more answers to further understand the text. To start, all instances of reading comprising of just an aesthetic purpose, or a reading trying to find authorial intention notion compromise hitting the pith of what the Wake aims to relay to readers. The former option is too removed, and the latter is too engaged. What needs to be met is a level removed from both, to find a middle ground: one that accepts that the author’s intention to be ever-expanding even posthumously and a text that always seems to be morphing with every individual reader’s experience. An acceptance of the resources that exist to expound the text should be utilized to the fullest extent. Meanings should continue to be tacked onto the work through hypertextual references, and the accessibility of the elucidations should only add to the scholarship.

The ceaseless existence of networks should serve as the greatest vessel to guide readers to an understanding of the book of the night. Networks perpetuate our everyday lives from the social networks we participate in, to the forums we populate and add our thoughts to, and even to the articles we contribute to on Wikipedia. Networks are consistently generating new information in the background whether or not we are participating in them. It seems quite justified to treat Finnegans Wake like a network: the architecture is there, and knowledge, contributions and elucidations help fill in the gaps of understanding that we yearn to comprehend. The network is operational whether or not users are actively focused on it, and it continues to grow in the background exponentially.

Finnegans Wake seems like it was written to not just be timeless, but to be able to adapt to modern literary studies. According to Michael Riffaterre, hypertextuality deals with the usage of a computer to transcend the original intertextuality to propose imagined connections (Riffaterre, 780). The notion of hypertextuality rejects traditional intertextual limits where the reader’s and author’s knowledge is at the forefront of the connections. Hypertextuality allows the freedom of association. With a hypertextual system, the connections and contributions made by the entire readership of a work is imperative to fully understanding the text. For example, on the biblical level, HCE might be related to Adam and on the literary level be related to Tristram, but hypertextuality harks relations as far as Andriambahomanana of Malagasy mythology or the adjustment of Kafka’s Gregor Samsa. Hypertextuality picks up where interpretation left off and continues to grasp the total potential of a text, especially in a case like Finnegans Wake.

However, hypertextuality shouldn’t be seen as a threat. Riffaterre believes that there are severe limitations when it comes to the notion of hypertextuality due to the presence of a computer alongside human interpretation. His fears also stem from the appearance of syllepsis in texts. However, Finnegans Wake calls for a handing-off of control to the readership. Finnegans Wake was structured in such a way to only be truly indexed when put through the potential of a technological system. It is a book that is non indexable by an individual reader, and true collective potential is only achieved when technological systems allow it. Collective potential in this case, is the infinitesimal potential readership of the Wake and the only possible means of mass communication is through technology. We replace what was previously thought to be a computer with a network. We are not only introduced to what was but the conversation remains in the realm of what is because new connections now have the potential to be made at an astounding rate.

Jacques Derrida interestingly predicted the climate of Joyce studies today back in the 1980s with his phrase “joyceware” (qtd, in Mitchell 25). Joyceware was a play on the word “software” and it was Derrida’s prediction of how readers would achieve a better understanding of the Wake. Derrida questioned the human ability to calculate the possible relations in the book, and rendered it to be moot. To Derrida, Finnegans Wake was a network, and sometime in the future, there would be software available to finally decode the meanings in the text. There was no computer capable of handling what Joyce had created, for at the time, Derrida believed that Joyce created a supercomputer. However, readers weren’t given typical software in today’s climate. We were instead provided with a network foundation in which all readers of the text can populate: a setting ripe for hypertextuality.

The book now manifests in a technologically driven form, and every reader contributes to this “joyceware.” Scattered sources are now compounded and readers can now build further upon this foundation. Now that the location is static, further permutations of interpretations can be drawn from what’s given. The reach towards a multiplicity of sources doesn’t exist anymore now that everything can be drawn off a collective build. These contextual permutations that are slowly being reached and possible, are hypertextual connections: connections that are now imagined based off of the grounded interpretations of today.

We live in the age of the digital portmanteau where Joyce’s creativity has been extracted and defined. The number of projects that have sprouted thanks to the accessibility of the digital age is immense and consistently growing. There’s Finnegansweb.com, a resource that has been around for over a decade that provides search based annotations, an art project on both Ulysses and Finnegans Wake known as Wake in Progress, and even a twitter with the handle JJ_Gazette to filter information and new ideas from people around the world on the works of Joyce. There is even a fully annotated copy of the book online called Finwake. These are only a few of the many sources that cover not only Joyce, but Finnegans Wake as well. Though projects like blogs and twitter accounts aren’t seen initially as intellectual sources, we cannot ignore their potential for the sharing of information on works such as Finnegans Wake. It revolutionizes the engagement that readers of the book can experience when wrestling with the text, and facilitate the sharing of information about a portmanteau, location, or person in the book seamlessly.

In 2005 Raphael Slepon released his massive web-based search engine on Finnegans Wake known as Fweet. Fweet serves as a living annotation project that has been built on previous annotations, the work of Slepon, and users who contribute to it. According to Slepon, a few thousand elucidations over the years have been contributed by users who attend and use the site as reference material. Over a hundred people have contributed and Slepon has received 2,500-3,000 emails related and contributing to the project. Though there’s a barrier for entry, it’s still a living example of the body of knowledge of Finnegans Wake being both extended by technological means at an exponential rate that users still contribute to, compared to traditional print annotations. It is through this, the interpretations are expanded beyond original limits in literature and scholarship. It can now extend to other thoughts and ideas from readers of the book in a unified source.

Hypertextuality looks to finally fill in all the potential missing gaps that the study of Finnegans Wake overlooks. Missed connections will continue to occur so long as we keep a shutter on the potential of the text. If we limit ourselves to just our textual senses and intertextual connections, we miss out on deeper meanings the text might have that have merit, and contribute to potential interpretations. Riffaterre is correct that the “exhaustive inclusion (of hypertext) exposes the reader to a wealth of irrelevant material,” but hypertext obviously isn’t unlimited and stays within the boundaries of possibility (Riffaterre, 786). They are just the connections that are now possible by combining a large body of textual readings and the intertextual connections that have been made, seamlessly. The connections of course are related to what has already been studied and stay within the boundaries of chronological limitations. Using and inferring hypertextual connections based off of the databases that now exist, expand on what we thought we knew about Finnegans Wake based off of what already exists. Time is stagnant, technology is spirited.

Take for example the description of HCE from Shem’s account in the second book of the Wake. Shem states that “Mynfadher was a boer constructor” (FW, 180. 35-36). This section of the text is important due to it being an outright presentation of self-description from one of the key characters. From a textual reading, we can decipher almost immediately the two basic ideas that are presented: a constructor, or someone who creates, or a boa constrictor. Both fall along the line of differing religious meanings: on one hand, you have HCE being portrayed as a god which is immediately juxtaposed with the image of the devil as the serpent. Reading the text, it’s clear that this is one of Joyce’s many ambiguities found throughout the Wake, keeping the reader alert to any information that can help construct the characters. Along with this there’s also a potential reference to the boer war: an important time in Irish history and military involvement.

Following that in the text, you have references to Shem being a “lexical student,” “parole” of the behavioral sense where the individual’s language reflects a contrast to societal discourse, and “corrected with the black-board.” This correction could deal with Shem wishing to stray beyond traditional teachings but is constantly brought back into conventional methods. This establishes Shem as the outcast in society, and it is reinforced throughout the chapter with Shem being ridiculed. Shem is a forger and that is obviously a very negative trait but Joyce alludes to the idea of forgery as a sense of mastery. The successful forger has to be a lexical student so in a sense, it’s both a compliment and a reflection.

On top of the textual reading, the intertextual reading could easily be provided by Joyce’s notes, interests, or reading catalogue. When the notion of intertextuality is at the forefront, the reference calls for James Clarence Mangan. Mangan was an Irish poet before Joyce’s time and Joyce had a lot of respect for his craft. This idea is reflected in Joyce’s writings on Mangan where he praises his work and defends Mangan against criticisms. The intertextual reference for this line comes from Mangan’s autobiography where he describes his father as a “human boa-constrictor” minus the dietary needs of a snake (Mangan, 678). This intertextual reference serves to describe HCE as a snake or even a tough father on his son Shem to draw a parallel between the relationship Mangan had with his father. However, the intertextual reference can go a bit deeper and be a reflection on Shem.

For Shem, intellectuality is at the forefront of his character development. He is shrewd, cunning and is shunned by society. The obvious parallel that could be drawn is Joyce wishing to pay homage to Mangan by injecting characteristics of him into Shem. Obviously, Shem is known for forgery, but the greater idea presented in the book deals with Shem being an intellect and an outcast, much like Mangan. Mangan suffered from alcoholism and multiple emotional problems as well. Joyce believed that Mangan was an intelligent poet who spoke volumes from the inside. This allows us to bring back the argument that Joyce might pin Shem as a forger and an outcast, but at the same time, there is a level of respect that is due for Shem’s mastery.

However, there has to be a level of caution with this genetic reading of the text. Tim Conley believes that “genetic investigation must not assume a role as unchallenged source for verification of readings by authorial reconstitution,” ergo, we have to allow genetic reading but simultaneously reject the notion that it should overtake the comprehension of Finnegans Wake (Conley, 108). Gamut-limiting by any means can be detrimental to what can be found in the book. The possibilities should not initially be limited and should remain so, regardless of the genetic reader. What should be kept in mind is the notion of promotion of intertextuality to the forefront of the reading. Instead of limiting ourselves to the study of Joyce’s body of knowledge and Finnegans Wake, the book should be read with a sense of hypertextuality. It not only enriches our understanding of the text but provides what has been missed due to previous limitations.

We should also be wary of hypertextuality as well. An inexhaustible reading of the text that proposes an infinite series of interpretations has to be met with caution because some interpretations aren’t valid. Umberto Eco proposed that there have to be “rules of connection” to this kind of reader and reading (Eco, 148). These rules foster the idea that everything has to be at least relevant to what was accessible to Joyce at the time. This can range from time specific predictions during the writing, such as the rise of television and radio, to any literature published before or within the writing of Finnegans Wake. Hypertextuality calls for the increase of connections and accessibility of connections, so long as they exist within the timeline of Joyce’s life.

For example, modern databases like FinWake and others that include user submissions such as Fweet contain annotations that go beyond the traditional intertext that we get directly from Joyce. That however is the point of the hypertext: the imagined connections built off of what’s unseen from the intertext based on possible nodes. The spread of the hypertext is due to the accessibility of the text and the allowance for reader participation. On FinWake, we are granted the Dutch translation of “mijn vader was een boer” which translates to “my father was a farmer.” This allows a hypertext connection between HCE and the Irish ‘Strong farmers’ that existed in the late 1800s. These farmers slowly became the dominant social and political class, and someone like that would call for the potential upbringing of an intellectual such as Shem.

On a deeper hypertextual connection, Fweet provides a direct, isolated translation for the term “boer.” According to the elucidation, the word is actually a reference to a South African of Dutch extraction. If these are the guidelines we are now capable of utilizing, quite a few imagined connections can be made in line with Joyce’s time period. If the nature of HCE is explicated, it leaves too many possibilities, but the nodes are present when viewing Shem generally as the son of a “boer.” Shem from the initial textual and intertextual references allowed him the title of an intellectual, and from that combined with the possibilities granted from Fweet, the nodes begin to connect.

Based on these guidelines, one hypertextual connection that can be drawn from this elucidation is to Jan Hendrik Hofmeyr. Hofmeyr was an intellectual in pre-apartheid South Africa which fills the criteria for Shem, and he was born to a boer. His earned his degree from Oxford and he had the potential to be well known by Joyce due to his active voice in South African politics during the writing of the Wake. The book also deals with issues of colonialism and postcolonial thought, so keeping with the criteria for a legitimized imagined connection, Hofmeyr has potential. This is due to his opposition to all of the discriminatory bills passed in South Africa during apartheid. Knowing this is beneficial to the reading because it’s another valid connection drawn from intertext being presented in hypertext. This conclusion wouldn’t have been possible if not for an imagined connection based off of previous elucidations.

Shem as Hofmeyr becomes just one of the many examples of a potential hypertextual interpretation. Finnegans Wake fans insist on participation which drives the availability of new interpretations. Fans can refuse the boundaries that they are given with available annotations, and can be full participants in contributing to the bodies of knowledge surrounding the Wake. Participation of adding to these bodies of knowledge are under less constraints than renowned scholars who write on the text. The nonacademic setting of some of the new means of interpreting the Wake allow readers to feel less threatened when it involves contributing. This flow of content to reader, from reader, to reader and scholars alike (where different worlds are colliding) is akin to Henry Jenkin’s theory of convergence culture. It emphasizes a demand that has to be met by producers of media, or in this case, scholar bodies to respond and engage in dialogue with new producers who comprise of the large readership of the Wake (Jenkins, 184). This transforms the meaning of Finnegans Wake even further because now anyone, even someone with limited competency in understanding the text, can be a participant in adding to possible interpretations.

This conversation across levels of accessibility is important because it shows how much is not only added to the conversation through digital means, but the compression of information as well. What was provided from the print annotation source was not only compounded in the third, digital source, but there were annotations on top of that. This process of compounding and adding are what breed hypertextual connections. The digital sources exist as living entities rather than static print entities. There is also nothing that stops any reader from taking their initial findings offhand and submitting them to these databases to not only continue the conversation, but provide living annotations that any other reader may visit and build upon.

It’s important to recognize the first generation of Joycean scholars and their contributions to the studies of Finnegans Wake. However, the hypertext has become the second generation of Finnegans Wake interpretation and replaces the original second wave of critical thought that followed the initial scholars in the 1970s. As Geert Lenout claims in his essay “Finnegans Wake: Annotation, Translation, Interpretation,” some of the more complex essays on the Wake only served to “complicate the complexities” of it (Lernout, 83). However, this hypertextual age looks less on writing full essays of interpretation, but rather just simply building on elucidations. These imagined connections don’t require intensive thought, but rather a small grasp at what has yet to be discovered in-line with all the currently accepted forms of interpretations. It builds from a solidified foundation rather than reinventing the same concept. The hypertextual connections go around these “autocratic” readers that Lenout claims are just making connections “that are inscribed or prescribed by Joyce.” The hypertextual connections build upon what’s already there and avoid being too abstract or farfetched. The hypertextual connections stay within the realm of the text and add to what could potentially be what Joyce meant on a subconscious level. Hypertextual connections don’t only have to derive from text, they can also derive from other mediums.

Along with Slepon’s Fweet, Stephen Crowe has been operating a blog known as “Wake in Progress” since 2010 and it conceptually has built off of Fweet and other contemporary, accessible resources. This website serves as one of the many contemporary art projects associated with the works of Joyce. Crowe for years has been taking passages out of both Ulysses and Finnegans Wake and translating them into a visual, consumable media. Crowe has received multiple requests from comments on his blog over the years on the next portion of the Wake to visualize. However, diving into the work reveals the unlimited possibilities that it presents: new ways of interpreting the Wake from a visual standpoint. These visual connections are also what drive hypertextual connections. Crowe takes the Wake and other potential online resources that are at his fingertips and designs his interpretations. From his art, we get connections that are not only inherent to the text, but hypertextual connections based off of a medium that provides even more interpretation than text itself.

If you look towards book one of Finnegans Wake, the background story contains HCE starting to receive more public ridicule for his “crime.” The public opinion manifests in a multitude of ways, specifically from a textual point of view to allusions to farmers. The Wake tells of the “angelus hour” with “ditchers bent upon their farm usetensiles” which from the standard textual point of view is in line with previous religious imagery (53. 16-18). These “ditchers” of the “angelus hour” could easily point towards humanity, with the story of Adam and Eve post Eden. Specifically, it refers to their sin and banishment from paradise to then work the land of the Earth to survive.

In the background the “peacebetothem oaks” and the “monolith rising” serve to create the background image of a peaceful moonlit scene on a farm (FW, 15-16). To further the idea that these sentences are talking about a broader public, “the monolith rising” not only serves the image of a farm, but also seeks to recount the tale of the golden calf from Genesis, and other instances of idolatry. The “peacebetothem” comes from the new testament’s common iteration of “peace be with you” from religious figures such as Jesus to mankind. From a textual standpoint everything seems to point solely to humankind, and general Irish public with the strong farming imagery.

The next step using annotations to make intertextual connections lead us to Joyce’s fascination with both the classics and religion. To begin with, the “augustan peacebetothem oaks” lead to The Peace of the Augustans by English scholar George Saintsbury. Saintsbury’s criticism in his work revolves around the idea that literature is the true good in the world. The “peacebetothem” can now be attributed to the reading public. Aside from that, the Augustus Caesar reference becomes clear to lead to the idea of Augustan Literature: a huge part of the Golden Age of Latin literature.

There’s also the “FERT” trope seen throughout the book, this time mockingly as “FART” through “fortitudinous ajaxious rowdinoisy tenuacity” (FW, 53: 16). FERT was the motto of the Royal House of Italy adopted with the Reale Casa di Savoia dynasty in Italy. In Latin, it’s supposed to be “Fortitudo Eius Rempublicam Tenet” or “His bravery preserves the Republic.” This then suggests that HCE embodies this quality. If we look at HCE through the lens of his objective self, or “Here comes everybody,” the meaning changes again. Could this be Joyce’s tipping his hat to the advancements of humankind? Joyce’s cynicism runs deep in Finnegans Wake but this could be him taking a step back and complementing human bravery, achievement and sacrifice.

This could be further supported with the other intertextual reference to Ajax. Ajax was a figure in Greek mythology and the classics. Specifically, he played an integral role in Homer’s Iliad where he not only dueled Hector for an entire day, but is a large part in fighting off the Trojans. He is depicted as a strong and brave character, much like the bravery of the “everybody” of HCE where Joyce tips his hat to humanity. As seen on a level even further removed, the line “fortitudinous ajaxious rowdinoisy tenuacity” could just point to the fortitude of both Ajax and the colossus of Rhodes (FW, 53:16-17)

Crowe in his illustrations however, provides another clear example of hypertextuality where the initial idea is moved to an imagined connection. To begin with, Crowe takes the initial textual reading where we have the public on display. It’s not the religious aspect that gets highlighted but rather the very human side of the farmers. It not only is reminiscent of the general Irish farming communities but rather looks to integrate both HCE and ALP through the usage of their pictographic symbols. HCE’s symbol, the “,” can be seen in the pitchfork of the male farmer and ALP’s “Δ” is seen on the top of their home, and on the top of a pillar in the background. The downturned crescent moon on the top of the image looks to be a combination of the two, set to represent both of them as both humanity and nature, watching over the earth.

The foundations for the imagined connections begin with Crowe seeing the potential of Millet’s painting, The Angelus being connected to the Wake. The Angelus is a depiction of a farmer and his wife bowing in prayer over a basket of potatoes. The text directly references the Catholic tradition but very discreetly alludes to the art itself. Though the “ditchers” in the story are “bent upon their farm usetensiles” (which point the reader in the right direction with the pitchfork), this wasn’t actually the original words of the Wake. Originally, according to the first draft version of the Wake, it was “the bellweather angelus hour,” and “the ditchers bent upon their implements” (Hayman, 70). Joyce’s modification creates the argument that this connection is possible with the ditchers now having farm “usetensiles” and the name of the work being validated by the writing. However, the hypertextual connection doesn’t stop there and from The Angelus, the imagined connection comes to life.

What Crowe seems to suggest beyond through the potential of his hypertextual connection is that this is reminiscent of not just The Angelus, but also of Salvador Dali’s Archeological Reminiscence of Millet’s “Angelus” painted in 1933. What lends this hypertextual connection validity is the fact that Dali had painted this work during the time Finnegans Wake was going through editing. Though not directly mentioned, the work manifests now as a hypertextual connection and it is important that the suggestion be taken and interpreted as a piece linked to Finnegans Wake.

Dali’s surrealist works are always set in a dreamscape architecture, much like how Finnegans Wake is structured. Dali’s main concern was with the visualization of dreams and how individuals can consume what they convey. One of Joyce’s concerns with Finnegans Wake was with the potential of a dreamscape and the information it could contain. Joyce’s play with consciousness throughout the book speaks volumes on the surrealist objective which is why this hypertextual connection has complete validity. The timeline of both this work and the writing of Finnegans Wake are coupled. There’s no reason to discredit the potential of this hypertextual connection and others.

Dali’s work portrays two large stone figures, much like the Rhode’s colossus (previously tipped in the book through intertextual connections). The two figures seem to both be bent in prayer like Millet’s and staring at objects that beg future potential. However, the statues are starting to decay much like the strained relationship between HCE and ALP. Painted in the female figure is what seems to be a tree – representing nature, and openings in the male figure on the left representing the open potentiality of the character. But what’s interesting about Dali’s work are the father and son observers of the two figures. This suggests that the original farmer and his wife weren’t an image of the general public, but rather aligned with Crowe’s vision of them being HCE and ALP. The observers don’t see the current potential of the couple but rather have a view of an aftermath reminiscent of Titanomachy. What could’ve been has already passed and what is to be is what’s in question.

It is extremely important that the readership of Finnegans Wake with the tools available make hypertextual, imagined connections. This hypertextual connection was possible through the readership of Finnegans Wake taking technological tools to interpret the work beyond the textual and intertextual connections that have been made. It not only helps the expansion of the meaning of the Wake but it also lays the groundwork for a larger understanding of the work through extensive meaning. There is a limited amount of information that textual and intertextual references provide and taking the step beyond does exactly what Joyce set up the framework for when he wrote the Wake.

Translations of the work are now available in a multitude of languages. The ambition of some readers has even stretched to create a successful Chinese version of the wake. What chance would an “Essai d’interprétation française de Finnegans Wake” have without a transmittable method such as the internet? The ambition of a French translation of Finnegans Wake can only be supplemented by such an accessible medium of release. Translations will always be tricky business when it comes to Joyce’s work. Translators can either be a certain level removed from the translation itself and follow Joyce as closely as possible, or they can go beyond Joyce, like Dieter H. Stündel did in his German translation (Rademacher, 484).

St​ü​ndel, unbeknownst to the public was carefully crafting his translation of the Wake since the nineteen seventies. Previous to his translation, Georg Goyert provided early German translations to the wake, most notably the Anna Livia Plurabelle chapter, but they didn’t have the same substance that St​ü​ndel provided. St​ü​ndel looked to provide the same poetic rhythm that Joyce provided in the wake and in doing so, invented a new wake that built off the previous one. Now, we not only have the option of unpacking the text outlined by Joyce, but also the new work of St​ü​ndel building and creating the potential new imagined connections.

The future of the hypertextuality of Finnegans Wake has to not only rely on the readership, but translations of the work as well. With a work of its caliber, translations were meant to both relay the message to a larger audience and expand on it. One example of this comes from St​ü​ndel and another translator, Friedhelm Rathjen, both tackling the “Voyage of Tristan and Iseult” section of the book. St​ü​ndel took the alternative route by going beyond Joyce in his translation. Rathjen’s version is quite important but St​ü​ndel’s should be taken into a greater account when making hypertextual connections because his changes allow the appearance of imagined connections that reach beyond original interpretations.

The ending of the second book of Finnegans Wake features memorable poetry from Joyce:

Three quarks for Muster Mark

Sure he hasn’t got much of a bark

And sure any he has it’s all beside the mark. (383. 1-3)

On the textual level, you have what seems to be a scene in a bar. The three “quarks” could seem to be a reference to three quarts of beer if the scene is set in the pub, for someone named Mark. The bark could be a reference to the ease of serving Mark because if he gets drunk, he’s tame and “hasn’t got much of a bark.” The last line could then tell the reader that the Mark we’re talking about is quite sober because anything he has previously drunk is “all beside the mark” or unrelated. Simply put, the reader is put back into HCE’s pub and also the italicized text could signify the thoughts of HCE managing his customers in the pub.

Again on the intertextual level, you have what seems to be cheers for “Muster Mark,” or if read with the episode title, King Mark from the myth of Tristan and Iseult. The second line could be a reference to King Mark’s ultimate failure to extract full punishment on both Tristan and Iseult (with both of them leaving their adulterous relationship with their lives). The third line then serves to contradict the second line. The third line references the fact that he still retains power by the end of the legend (he has) but it’s “beside the mark” which could reference that King Mark’s power remains from him being able to put the event behind him regardless of what transpired. His ability to be merciful is his power. These poetic lines were taken by Jörg Rademacher, and compared to St​ü​ndel’s version to highlight the changes.

In his version, the text is changed slightly but assumes a different meaning:

Drei Quarks für Müster Mark

Sein Gekläff war wohl eher karg

Und sein Besitz ist unter der Mark (St​ü​ndel, FWD238)

based on translation and Rademacher’s notes, the German when translated back finds new meaning. The first line remains the same with the translation holding completely true to the English. However, the second line introduces the following change: rather than “Mister Mark” not having much of a bark, it changes with the German to a “sparse yapping” with the change of bark for “Gekläff” and “karg” to denote frequency. Along with this, the third line changes completely. The English shows possession with “he has,” but St​ü​ndel makes it a clear objective possession with the word “besitz.”

The interpretation that St​ü​ndel now draws is that this Mark character “yapped” a scant amount and his “property” or “possessions” is “under the Mark.” What’s important about this change is the fact that it changes the meaning from an action, “his bark” to an actual physical object of possession which is still “under the Mark.” To draw from this, we can make a more solidified and clear hypertextual connection: the reach to a reference to Mark Twain. The hypertextual reference is within the boundaries of possible hypertextual connection: Mark Twain is not only of Joyce’s time, but also his works are mentioned multiple times throughout the Wake.

Twain’s death saw the emergence of his essays that were too controversial to publish during his lifetime. His posthumous works included many political essays that were counter to popular belief like The United States of Lyncherdom. They also included controversial essays that went against traditional thought for the time like The Mysterious Stranger which included Satan as a main character and reflects on the faults of the human race. Many of these posthumous works were published immediately after Twain’s death in 1910 and even up until 1938 (staying within the potential writing time of Joyce) with The Washoe Giant in San Francisco. Now that possessions are being spoken of, these could be a reference to these works published posthumously because they were “under the Mark” or in the case with this hypertextual interpretation, hidden by Mark Twain out of fear of any form of persecution.

It could also then be understood what the first line adds to the entire hypertextual connection. It could be James Joyce’s salute to Mark Twain for having these controversial pieces to begin with. Joyce was no stranger to controversy with Ulysses previously having a history of being both banned and burned in different countries, worldwide. Joyce seeing the repressed works of Twain finally be released to the public could just reaffirm the respect he had for the late author. The three “quarks” could then be interpreted as three cheers for Mr. Mark Twain. But one work that is probably one of Twain’s most important that might’ve had a large impact on Joyce would be My Platonic Sweetheart.

The hypertextual reference for the three quarks, now that we’ve created the node for Mark Twain can now be stretched further to the three dreams in Mark Twain’s posthumously published work: My Platonic Sweetheart. The work deals with writing about dreams and dream-like scenarios, much like the structure of Finnegans Wake. The main three dreams in the work establish characters, setting, and scenarios that involve multiple male and female pairings that can be traced to the different manifestations of HCE and ALP in Joyce’s own dream-like architecture. Therefore, the “three cheers” for Mark Twain can then be given towards these first three dreams which might’ve served as the inspiration for both the dream-like architecture and the multiplicity of characters that come to represent HCE and ALP.

Hypertextuality comes to us today through the accessibility of computers, networks and writings on the Wake. Computers call for collective interpretation which then in-turn allow the stretch towards imagined connections now that the framework has been established. Networks allow us to grasp missed connections, now that information is being compounded into completely accessible sources and is at the fingertips of any reader willing to take on the text. Compounded information could then be used to think further and expand the possibilities of interpretation based on what hasn’t been said already, so long as it fits within the boundaries of Joyce’s writing period. Hypertext doesn’t allow us to transcend history, but rather work at a level far beyond human capacity in the plain of history, in a certain timeline.

The rate at which new ideas on the Wake are generated is astounding, so why should a limitation be placed on the fluidity of a word when the expansion of the meaning perpetrated by collective thought is constantly adding to the possible meanings we can attribute to the Wake? Can the wake truly be modern if it neglects additional bodies of knowledge? To be able to create new meaning in the Wake is just a byproduct of the accessibility of both the text and resources that call for the allowance of the average reader to collectively annotate the text. The fact that a community of people are passing the book along and perpetuating exponential growth allows it to be timeless. Hypertextuality calls for this this and will continue to allow it, so long as computer networks exist.


Sources Used


Conley, Tim. “Performance Anxieties.” Joyces Mistakes: Problems of Intention, Irony, and Interpretation. Toronto: U of Toronto, 2003. 108. Print.

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