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Scholars make 9,000 corrections to James Joyce classic

Does the new edition of "Finnegans Wake" express or distort the author's intention?

Joycean scholar Senator David Norris expressed delight that the text of "Finnegans Wake" has been corrected, but was unsure that it would make it more accessible.

“The text is so dense,” he told the Irish Times. “It’s written in a dream language which is very far from the ordinary written English except for its syntax.”

Norris has campaigned to popularize the comic work by reading passages on Irish radio, treating the text as if it was meant to be listened to, just like the ballad from which it draws its inspiration. “It’s the kind of thing you have to hear,” he said.

Rose claimed the syntaxical coherence of the book has been fully restored to produce the first definitive edition of Joyce’s final masterpiece.

“I think that after 90 years of learning to read ‘Ulysses’ we can now learn to read ‘Finnegans Wake,'” he said.

The difference between "Finnegans Wake" and "Ulysses" is the difference between night and day, according to the author himself. “The action of ‘Ulysses’ was chiefly during the daytime, and the action of my new work takes place chiefly at night,” Joyce explained once in response to critics. “It’s natural things should not be so clear at night, isn’t it now?”

One thousand copies of the new edition are being published by Houyhnhnm Press, 200 in black calf skin at 900 euros ($1,226) each and the remainder at 300 euros ($409) each. For those readers with less money but more patience and sense, Penguin will bring out a trade edition next year for about 20 euros ($27).

This article was updated to correct two misspellings of "Finnegans Wake."