“Plain English” Translation of James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake Exceeds 175,000 Pages

The "Plain English" Translation of James Joyce's Finnegans Wake Exceeds 150,000 Pages
The “Plain English” Translation of James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake Exceeds 175,000 Pages

Chicago, Il — University of Chicago James Joyce scholar Professor James Badwater has completed what he is calling a “plain English” version of the Irish writer’s avant-garde work Finnegans Wake. The translated version of this comic fiction novel has eclipsed over 175,000 pages and will take approximately 42 years to read.

“It’s the work of my lifetime,” said Professor Badwater speaking of his 15-year effort to make Finnegans Wake more accessible to ‘the average Joe.’ “I knew it was going to be a tough job, but I really didn’t realize it would balloon into the size it is now. Frankly, I didn’t really notice how large it was getting until my colleague asked to proof some of my work. I took him 2 years to get through the first three chapters.”

The following 160-word passage about deer hunting was “translated” into approximately 4345 “plain English” words in Professor Badwater’s version:

Riverrun, past Eve and Adam’s, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs. Sir Tristram, violer d’amores, fr’over the short sea, had passencore rearrived from North Armorica on this side the scraggy isthmus of Europe Minor to wielderfight his penisolate war: nor had topsawyer’s rocks by the stream Oconee exaggerated themselse to Laurens County’s gorgios while they went doublin their mumper all the time: nor avoice from afire bellowsed mishe mishe totauftauf thuartpeatrick: not yet, though venissoon after, had a kidscad buttended a bland old isaac: not yet, though all’s fair in vanessy, were sosie sesthers wroth with twone nathandjoe. Rot a peck of pa’s malt had Jhem or Shen brewed by arclight and rory end to the regginbrow was to be seen ringsome on the aquaface. The fall (bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonnerronntuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoord-enenthurnuk!) of a once wallstrait oldparr is retaled early in bed and later on life down through all christian minstrelsy. 

“That passage took me about 4 months to translate,” continued Professor Badwater. “A bigger problem for me, to be honest, was choosing which version of plain English to use. So I settled on the most common version we know of, which I call ‘California television news anchor’.”

Professor Badwater was also quick to point out that it “took a village” to produce the translation in its current form. He pointed us to his student prodigy Roy Riffle who can speak natively in a Finnegans Wake dialect. Mr. Riffle [attempted] to speak to us from his home in Nevada City, CA.

“With our best youlldied greedings to Pep and Memmy and the old folkers below and beyant,” said Mr. Riffle during an incomprehensible telephone interview for this story, “wishing them all very merry Incarnations in this land of the livvey ad plety of preposterousness through their crossing new yonks. jake, jck and little sousoucie (the babes that mean too).”

The 175,000-page collection of 350 books will be available from Penguin Classics in time for Christmas. Suggested retail price: $1750.00 USD.

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