El Signo Indiscreto de Finnegans Wake

by Ricardo Navarrete Franco

Paperback e-Book PDF
Institution: University of Seville
Advisor(s): Francisco Garcia Tortosa
Degree: Ph.D., English Literature
Year: 1995
Volume: 384 pages
ISBN-10: 1581120168
ISBN-13: 9781581120165


The difference between "mass" and "mess," for example, says a lot about the distinctive capacity of phonemes and the alphabet, but very little about the many similarities in these two words. It follows that there is something not exactly alphabetical in language that is prompted by similarities like these. Even quotidian reading exhibits non-alphabetic ingredients, for instance when we skip spelling mistakes or typographical errors; i.e.: when we impose analogies over differences, hermeneutics over semiology, semasiography over the alphabet. Joyce, who once commented that "a few letters will do if you can't read a whole word," just incorporates another system of writing to his "cyclical history," very much in keeping with Vico's idea that each cycle has its own writing system.

The incorporation of this non-alphabetic, semasiographic way of reading also explains the presence of allusions and opens up the apparent conflict between allusion and intentionality. How far can analogies go? or rather, can allusions and intentionality be reconciled? They both reveal the existence of coincidences (facilitated by the narrow range of the alphabet); some of them Joyce surely saw, many others produced by mere chance. Chance, then, is the realm that, far from making them opposite, reunite intentionality and allusion, for both depend on the previous existence of coincidences.

In Finnegans Wake the search for coincidences marks the beginning of awakening. Using Joyce's additions to his drafts as orientation, particularly those that refer to the Egyptian Book of the Dead, it is possible to trace the resurrection process that Shaun undergoes. Shaun finds the keys to conventional language and to his awakening, like in the fairy tale, in an intentional act of love, in a kiss.