Scientists find evidence of mathematical structures in classic books. [The Guardian] James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake has been described as many things, from a masterpiece to unreadable nonsense. But it is also, according to scientists at the Institute of Nuclear Physics in Poland, almost indistinguishable in its structure from a purely mathematical multifractal.
“The absolute record in terms of multifractality turned out to be Finnegans Wake by James Joyce. The results of our analysis of this text are virtually indistinguishable from ideal, purely mathematical multifractals,” said Professor Stanisław Drożdż, another author of the paper, which has just been published in the computer science journal Information Sciences.
The Romantic True Story Behind James Joyce’s Bloomsday [TIME]
The day June 16, 1904, was a big one in the romantic life of Leopold Bloom, the protagonist of James Joyces’ Ulysses, at least inside his head. In celebration of that day, and Bloom’s fictional perambulations around Dublin during the course of it, James Joyce fans mark the date each year as “Bloomsday.” It is, as TIME explained in 1982, “a sacred date on the calendar of all Joyceans.”[more inside]
Ulysses and Us by Declan Kiberd [Irish Times]
In some ways the fate of Ulysses reflects this openness, at least in the Dublin of today. It seems a work of high modernism, in the manner of a Proust or a Musil, yet it has become a signature element in the life of the city in which it is set. Each year hundreds, maybe thousands, dress as characters from the book – Stephen Dedalus with his cane, Leopold Bloom with bowler hat, Molly Bloom in her petticoats, Blazes Boylan in straw boater – as if to assert their willingness to become one with the text. They re-enact scenes on Eccles Street, on Ormond Quay and in the martello tower in Sandycove. It is impossible to imagine any other masterpiece of modernism having quite such an effect on the life of a city.[more inside]
The death of writing – if James Joyce were alive today he’d be working for Google: [Guardian Books]
There’s hardly an instant of our lives that isn’t electronically documented. These days, it is software that maps our new experiences, our values and beliefs. How should a writer respond? Tom McCarthy on fiction in the age of data saturation.
We've Lost One Of The Great Fantasy Writers: R.I.P. Graham Joyce
"Graham Joyce was a monumental writer in the fantasy genre. His humane, intense writing was like a masterclass in how to put story first, and he knew how to write people, with all our blind spots and our hopeful mistakes. He died today of lymphatic cancer, and it's a huge loss to fantasy literature."[more inside]
In literature, there are two key sorts of annotations: marginalia, or the notes jotted down in the margins by the reader, and additional information formally provided in expanded editions of a text, and you can find a bit of both online. Annotated Books Online is an on-line interactive archive of early modern annotated books, where researchers can share digitized documents and collaborate on translations. For insight into a single author's notes, Melville's Marginalia provides just that. For annotations with additional information, The Thoreau Reader provides context for Walden (linked previously), The Maine Woods, and other writings. Then there's the mostly annotated edition Ulysses, analysis of Joseph Conrad's Nostromo, and the thoroughly annotated US constitution (twentieth amendment linked previously). More marginalia and annotations inside. [more inside]
Finnegans Wake, Joyce's famously unreadable masterpiece (read it online here), was considerably more readable in one of its earlier drafts. Watch Joyce cross out decipherable words and replace them with less decipherable ones! Watch him end, not with a whimper, but with a slightly less impressive whimper! Sadly, Shem's schoolbook, which in the finished version is a House of Leaves-esque compendium of side columns and footnotes, was not written until much later (according to the footnotes of that section). The introduction to this draft by David Hayman, who assembled it, is worth a read.
The new James Joyce commemorative coin has a typo. "While the error is regretted, it should be noted that the coin is an artistic representation of the author and text and not intended as a literal representation."
In 1995, an Atlantic story on the first Chinese translation of Ulysses closed with the offhand remark that "no one in China is offering to translate Finnegans Wake." Today on the (day after the) 131st anniversary of his birth, James Joyce's famously difficult work is a bestseller in China.
What If Other Authors Had Written The Lord Of The Rings?...Wilde, Wodehouse, and more.
What to Make of Finnegans Wake? by Michael Chabon
Joyce Banda, who was recently sworn in as Malawi's first ever female president has announced plans to repeal her country's laws against homosexuality in her first state of nation address. She said: "Some laws which were duly passed by the august house... will be repealed as a matter of urgency... these include the provisions regarding indecent practices and unnatural acts." More than two-thirds of African countries have laws criminalising homosexual acts with imprisionment, abuse and even murder being served as punishment to generally widespread public support. This, coupled with Malawi hosting the African summit in July makes Banda's move all the more laudable.
Did you know James Joyce wrote a children's book (sort of)? Patricia Highsmith wrote one too. So did James Baldwin (not to be confused with James Baldwin the children's book author). Eugène Ionesco wrote four stories for young kids. Graham Greene also wrote at the very least four children's books (and possibly more). Other unlikely children's book authors are Aldous Huxley, E. E. Cummings, Chinua Achebe (2, 3, 4), Eleanor Roosevelt and Gertrude Stein. Author Ariel S. Winter has written about all these books on his excellent blog We Too Were Children, Mr. Barrie. On his Flickr page you can look at scans from these books, sometimes even the whole book.
EU copyright on Joyce works ends at midnight. From tomorrow, January 1st 2012, writings published during Joyce’s lifetime – Dubliners, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Ulysses and Finnegans Wake – are available for publication and quotation without reference or payment to the James Joyce estate.
'These children don’t recognize the flags of their home countries, but they can all sing "Jesus Loves Me."'
Ulysses - An Irish guy (in West Virginia) reads Ulysses and posts it to the web in 20 parts. It's a work best appreciated when read aloud and here is someone who has read it aloud just for you. (ultra-condensed version here ) [more inside]
Happy Bloomsday! James Joyce's Ulysses, named the number one novel of the century by the Modern Library, took place 103 years ago today. Can't make the reenactment in Dublin? Listen online right now to a live onstage reading at Symphony Space in New York. (previously)
Shakespeare and Company, the first English/American bookshop and lending library in Paris, may be the most famous bookshop in history.
A new genre of literary wikis is in the works. Pynchon fans can find as well as contribute answers to questions about his works at the Thomas Pynchon Wiki. The site currently offers sections on The Crying of Lot 49, Gravity's Rainbow, Mason & Dixon, and Against the Day. Each offers spoiler-free page-by-page annotations, alphabetic search and a compilation of reviews. The Pynchon wikis were created by Tim Ware, "curator" of ThomasPynchon.com. Elsewhere, literary wikis have been started for James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake and the works of Shakespeare.
Between 1912 and 1948, one could win an Olympic medal by excelling in creativity rather than athletics. Works contending in this "Pentathlon of the Muses" had to be sport-related, though: see for example this gold-winning drawing by Jean Jacoby. Perhaps the most famous Olympic artist is Oliver St. John Gogarty (Google cache), after whom Joyce's character of Buck Milligan was modelled. In later years, the tradition was incorporated into the concept of a Cultural Olympiad held alongside the main event.
'Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed.'
Bisclavret is part of a book I'm reading, "Les Lais de Marie de France." [Modern and original French versions, side-by-side]. Also the tragedy Suréna [French link], by Pierre Corneille, and for a reading group, Genesis from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, as a literary, not religious, text. Last week the group read The Dead from James Joyce's "The Dubliners" and before that Milan Kundera's "The Unbearable Lightness of Being." What are you reading?