Finnegans Wake by James Joyce

Online Course


Finnegans Wake by James Joyce

“Life, he himself once said (his biografiend, in fact, kills him verysoon, if yet not, after) is a wake, livit or krikit, and on the bunk of our bread-winning lies the cropse of our seedfather, a phrase which the establisher of the world by law might pretinately write across the chestfront of all manorwombanborn.”

Every element in every book read to this point has prepared us to enter the dreamscape of what many have called the most difficult English language book ever written.

"I've put in so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant. And that's the only way of insuring one's immortality." -- James Joyce on Finnegans Wake

Crafted with the attention to detail of a woodcarver recreating the entire Sistine Chapel ceiling on a wood panel the size of a shoebox lid, Joyce’s masterpiece drew comparisons to Shakespeare, Dante, and Homer. It’s allusions cover the whole spectrum of Western and Mideastern mythology. It’s themes are hidden in an elaborate lexicon of puns, and portmanteau constructions that Joyce organized into a complete glossary of thousands of new words solely for the purpose of writing this, his final novel.

By the time we reach this stage of our journey, we have read and come to a deeper understanding of five books that inhabit the rarest air of the literary canon of our time. Guided by Joseph Campbell’s annotations, in his book A Skeleton Key to Finnegan’s Wake, we now plant our flag atop the summit of the literary Everest.

This course is the sixth in a series we call The Himalayas of Literature.

Your Instructor

Stephen L. Russell
Stephen L. Russell

Many years ago, deep in the heart of Texas, Stephen fell in love with long, dense novels that most of his friends and family found better suited for pressing flowers or propping up a broken table leg than as something to crack open and read. He found these books opened his mind to rich experiences with an immediacy that simply didn't exist in day-to-day life.

Graduate level courses in Faulkner and Milton at Trinity University in San Antonio, along with continuing obsessions with Shakespeare, World Mythology, and the life changing discovery of Aristotle's "Poetics" led him to consume much of the literary canon, participate in workshops on the craft of writing, and help organize and lead discussions in a book club of serious authors, academics, and journalists studying literary craft for nearly ten years.

Stephen worked in retail sales and management for over forty years, the last fourteen as a bookstore manager, before retiring to his great passions of learning through reading great literature, writing, and sharing his experience with other bibliophiles.

He is also continuing his mythology and self-discovery studies as a student of Dr. David Frawley, studying the Vedic sciences and philosophy. His personal philosophy comes from from the great Zen teacher, Shrunyu Suzuki:

"The goal of practice is always to keep our beginner's the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few."

Frequently Asked Questions

When does the course start and finish?
The course starts now and never ends! It is a completely self-paced online course - you decide when you start and when you finish.
How long do I have access to the course?
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What if I am unhappy with the course?
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