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riverrun, past Eve and Adam’s, from swerve of shore

Tuesday, 2 April, 2013

Great story in today’s Wall Street Journal about how Dai Congrong spent eight years translating Book I of James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake into Chinese. Her translation sold out its 8,000-volume run shortly after it was released in December. Snippet:

“The first line of the novel, which begins mid-sentence, reads, ‘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.’ To translate that sentence alone, Ms. Dai provides two definitions, five footnotes and seven asides in smaller type to describe its allusions to religion, memory and the 17th- and 18th-century academic Giovanni Battista Vico.”

Congratulations to Lilian Lin and Carlos Tejada for their excellent reporting and writing of ‘Finnegans Wake’ Is Greek to Many; Now Imagine It in Chinese.

By the way, in Finnegans Wake, Joyce summed up the madness of the scribbling business thus: “But by writing thithaways end to end and turning, turning and end to end hithaways writing and with lines of litters slittering up and louds of latters slettering down, the old semetomyplace and jupetbackagain from tham Let Raise till Hum Lit. Sleep, where in the waste is the wisdom?”


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