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Finnegans Wake: Readings through drawing

Cahill, C (2016) Finnegans Wake: Readings through drawing. Journal of Illustration, 3 (1). pp. 57-83. ISSN 2052-0204


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This is a visual practitioner’s personal, reflective account of an ongoing investigation into the potential of drawing as a means of reading James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake. It acknowledges the challenging and distinctive nature of this text, regarding this as arising at least in part from the struggle it has with its own format and its movement towards the condition of a visual image. In this movement lies the surprising amenability of the text to visual adaptation. The account is broadly contextualised within the lineage of illustrative responses to the Wake but proposes a particular method of annotation and pictorial notation of imaginative responses during the moment of reading. In so doing it articulates the experience of realizing the text as an internalized visual experience that is cyclically externalized and re-imbibed through graphic gesture, reinforcing the notion of Joyce’s text as a generative meta-tool that retains the capacity to challenge and extend the conventions of illustration.

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