Loosen your talktapes
Finnegans Wake

Finnegans Wake – A Reading by Patrick Healey

Read by Patrick Healy

1. Lilliput Press, 1995, ISBN 1-874675-62-7; Four cassettes, €24.00. ABRIDGED.

2. Lilliput Press, 1995, ISBN 1-874675-62-7; Seventeen CDs, €275.00. UNABRIDGED. [Browse/Purchase]


1. riverrun (3.1) – which iz leebez luv (17.36)
1. Zmorde! (18.1) – Usqueadbaugham! (24.14)
2. A baser meaning (33.14) – fibfib fabrications (36.34)
3. In the name of Annah the Allmaziful (104.1) – about the Raincoats (107.7)


1. The proteiform graph (107.8) – Fullup MDCXC (121.35)
1. The scholiast (121.36) – Shem the Penman (125.23)
2. Be that as it may (182.4) – You are mad! (193.28)


1. He points the deathbone (193.29) – behind her lungarhodes (208.26)
1. Hellsbells (208.27) – Night! (216.5)
2. – Three Quarks for Muster Mark! (383.1) – Ah dearo dearo dear (392.13)


1. And where do you (392.14) – led it be (399.36)
2. Bisships, bevel to rock’s rite (606.13) – milk from a natural cowse (615.27)
1. That was the prick (615.27) – a long the (628.16)

Healey, a Dublin-born writer and editor, possesses a voice that seems especially created to realize the Wake. Although his reading may not be as careful or tender as Joyce’s brief recording, his astonishing attempt is certainly well deserving of admiration. Healey’s Irish accent touches the syllables of the text and sparks them to life, lifting them off the page and sending them skirling into the cusp of your ear. (Just hearing him pronounce those hundred-letter thunder words is worth the price alone!) Of course, with a work like Finnegans Wake, some controversy is bound to arise, and you may not agree with all of Healy’s pronounciation choices. His Gaelic is wonderful, but his mastery of the Germanic compound words is not without a few stutters and false notes, and some passages called for a more humorous touch. The pace is also a bit hurried at times, and though this is effective at creating a delirious momentum, there are points where a slower reading would have allowed a listener time to better savour some of Joyce’s amazing wordplay. But putting these nitpicks aside, this is still a wonderful project, and Healy’s voice itself is delightful – his understanding of the text is obvious, and his occasional surprising characterizations are simply enchanting.

Liner Notes (From the abridged version):

I January 1992 Patrick Healy read the complete text of James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake over four days at Bow Lane Recording Studios, Dublin. This recording comprises of four hours of extracts from that acclaimed recording and an interpretive essay. It offers unique access to one of English literature’s most complex but rewarding literary achievements of twentieth century.

A review from the James Joyce Literary Supplement, by David Hayden:

Amazing and important, Healy is something truly rare, for, though there are misses . . . This is probably as close to a letter-perfect rendering of the text as we can hope to get . . . After enduring the whole, I heartily recommend that all Wakeans, all Joyceans who claim to be professionals, all lovers of Joyce, make sure they have, if not their own copy of the reading, at least a copy in a library near them . . . The ease and clarity with which Healy reads the vast majority of the book . . . Succeed in making [it] available to a practiced reader and the frightened neophyte . . . This is, in the final analysis, a splendidly received and executed project . . . This reading is important, and could even become an indispensable adjunct to our reading and to the Wake. Buy it, listen to it, return with it to the Wake. Return to the Wake!

I picked up my copy at the James Joyce Museum in Martello Tower, Dublin, and I haven’t seen it yet in the US. Copies may be ordered directly from Lilliput:

The Lilliput Press
4 Rosemount Terrace, Arbour Hill
Dublin 7, Ireland
Tel/Fax (353) 1 671-1647

The full recording of Healey’s reading of Finnegans Wake may also be purchased directly from the publisher, Rennicks Auriton Publishing. It is a 21 hour long reading spaced upon 17 compact discs and packaged with an accompanying 128 page book, The Modern and the Wake, written by Patrick Healey. Limited to a mere 1000 sets, it is available for IR £200 plus IR £30 postage and handling. To order a copy, contact:

Stephen Rennicks
18 Herbert Street
Dublin 2, Ireland
Tel 353 1 6627862
Fax 353 1 6628672

Finnegans Wake (Naxos)

Read by Jim Norton and Marcella Riordan. Running time approx. 5 hours.

1. Naxos Audiobooks, 1995, ISBN 9626346639; Four cassettes; $22.98. [Purchase U.K. / Search for a Copy U.S.]

2. Naxos Audiobooks, 1995, ISBN 9626341637; Four CDs; £19.99. U.K. Only [Browse/Purchase U.K.]

Read by Jim Norton and Marcella Riordan of the BBC, the same team that read the Naxos Ulysses, this abridged recording is complete with music, including Wagner, Bellini, John McCormack, and Roger Marsh’s own Not a Soul but Ourselves. Unavailable in the United States because of copyright laws, this excellent set is available for ordering through Naxos’ U.K. homepage.
From the publisher:

 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...

So starts Finnegans Wake, the greatest challenge in 20th century literature. Who is Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker? And what did he get up to in Phoenix Park? And what did Anna Livia Plurabelle have to say about it? In the rich night time language of dreams here is history, anecdote, myth, folk tale – and above all, a wondrous sense of humour coloured by a clear sense of humanity. In this exceptional reading by the Irish actor Jim Norton, with Marcella Riordan, the world of the Wake is more accessible than ever before. The abridgement, made by the composer and Joyce enthusiast Roger Marsh, is presented with the text, allowing the listener to get deeper into Joyce’s labyrinth by both aural and visual means.

Jim Norton, the distinguished Irish actor reads. His performances of both Ulysses and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man demonstrate his particular sympathy for the author – helped by a childhood in the heart of Dublin where Leopold Bloom and James Joyce walked.

For the first time ever, a performance of Finnegans Wake that sets out to entertain, amuse and inform, rather than bemuse. While scholarly in its background, this adaptation by Roger Marsh for audiobook seeks to show that the enjoyment of this great work does not have to start and stop with the first paragraph.

Roger Marsh has written a small essay on reading FW which appeared in the Independent. You may read a favorable review from The New Statesman. There is also a Roger Marsh page on Bronze by Gold.

Finnegans Wake – Read by Patrick Ball

Read by Patrick Ball
Celestial Harmonies, 2 CDs, $19.00. [Browse/Purchase]

This set of 2 CDs contains excerpts of Finnegans Wake read by Patrick Ball, with accompanying harp music especially written by Mr. Ball for the piece. Alan Mahan reports:

I listed to it while following along in my “pristine” (no annotations!) 1958 Viking hardback edition and I must say that it was a pleasure hearing/seeing new insights into the text just from having an authentic Irishman voice the vernacular! I cannot recommend this package enough. Even the booklet is wonderful, with annotation excerpts from John Campbell and John Bishop (Book of the Dark), which include all the footnotes, as well.

You may read the Sydney Herald review here.

Finnegans Wake – An Excerpt by Cyril Cusack

Read by Cyril Cusack & Siobhan McKenna

1. Caedmon, LP. Out of Print

2. Caedmon, 2002, ISBN 0-06-050179-0; Four CDs, $29.95. [Browse/Purchase]

Originally an LP issued by Caedmon, Side One features Cyril Cusack reading most of “Shem the Penman,” (FW-I.iiv). According to Ryan Underwood, Cusack employs “a voice that ranges from a mincy kind of roar to a somber kind of whisper.” Side Two featues Siobhan McKenna reading the “Anna Livia Plurabelle” section of the Wake. Long out of print, the entire LP is now CD #4 in Caedmon’s The James Joyce Audio Collection.

Finnegans Wake – Read by Patrick Horgan

Read by Patrick Horgan
Produced by AFB; indended for the Royal Blind Society. 27 hrs 40 min. [Browse]

This information from Ross Chambers in Australia:

I discovered the following among the audio books at my new job at the Royal Blind Society. There’s a catch, these recordings only available to visually impaired people. And yes, I’ve told the cataloguer that “written in 1939” is not correct!

Liner Notes:

Finnegan’s wake[sic]
By Joyce, James.
A controversial, experimental novel written in 1939. The book is apparently a dream sequence representing one night in the unconscious mind of a dublin tavern keeper. Joyce’s unique style makes extensive use of slang, arcane puns and obscure allusions.

Go To:

Joyce Audio Main PageBack to the main audio page, where you will find the standard Brazen Head menu.

Joyce Reading – Recordings of Joyce reading in his own voice. This section also includes poetry and collections.

DublinersJoyce’s great collection of stories.

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young ManJoyce’s first novel.

Ulysses – Readings and productions of Joyce’s masterpiece.

Miscellaneous – Biographies, lectures, and essays about Joyce and his work.

The sissymusses and the zossymusses in their robenhauses quailed to hear his tardeynois at all – Send email to the Great Quail. Comments, suggestions, corrections, criticisms, submissions – all are welcome!

–Allen B. Ruch
6 August 2004