Stephen Crowe’s Wake In Progress is an ongoing project of illustrating Finnegans Wake. The style is deliberately varied (Mutt and Jute is, of course, a comic strip); I suggest you start at the start (i.e., bottom) and work your way up. He explains something about the project here and some more here, with entirely unnecessary self-deprecation—the guy’s good. I particularly love the prankquean, and this illustration of the allaphbed passage on page 18 could be a logo for Languagehat. I hope that his gorgeous illustrations will serve as an entry point for some readers into that endless (literally), maddening, all-encompassing, and joy(ce)ous text. (Via wood s lot.)


  1. Wonderful stuff. Wonderful. Though I fear our artist does not know what “pulled a rosy one and made her wit foreninst [opposite, in front of] the door” (p. 21) means, or his graphic would have been more … graphic.
    My father’s specialty anent the Wake was the law in it, and I’m pleased to notice here what I never saw before, that it begins as early as p. 7 (“had a lean on it”, sc. a lien).
    In a different though related vein, Ulysses Seen is an ambitious attempt to make a graphic novel of Ulysses; the first chapter is up on the Web and available as an iPad app, and the friends of the artist are soliciting funds at Kickstarter to give him time and space to finish the job.
    Anyhow, here is the prankquean’s story, somewhat more reasonably paragraphed (as if I were you):
    It was of a night, late, lang time agone, in an auldstane eld, when Adam was delvin and his madameen spinning watersilts, when mulk mountynotty man was everybully and the first leal ribber-robber that ever had her ainway everybuddy to his lovesaking eyes and everybilly lived alove with everybiddy else, and Jarl van Hoother had his burnt head high up in his lamphouse, laying cold hands on himself. And his two little jiminies, cousins of ourn, Tristopher and Hilary, were kickaheeling their dummy on the oil cloth flure of his homerigh, castle and earthenhouse.
    And, be dermot, who come to the keep of his inn only the niece-of-his-in-law, the prankquean. And the prankquean pulled a rosy one and made her wit foreninst the dour. And she lit up and fireland was ablaze. And spoke she to the dour in her petty perusienne: Mark the Wans, why do I am alook alike a poss of porterpease? And that was how the skirtmisshes began. But the dour handworded her grace in dootch nossow: Shut!
    So her grace o’malice kidsnapped up the jiminy Tristopher and into the shandy westerness she rain, rain, rain. And Jarl van Hoother warlessed after her with soft dovesgall: Stop deef stop come back to my earin stop. But she swaradid to him: Unlikelihud. And there was a brannewail that same sabboath night of falling angles somewhere in Erio. And the prankquean went for her forty years’ walk in Tourlemonde and she washed the blessings of the lovespots off the jiminy with soap sulliver suddles and she had her four owlers masters for to tauch him his tickles and she convorted him to the onesure allgood and he became a luderman.
    So then she started to rain and to rain and, be redtom, she was back again at Jarl van Hoother’s in a brace of samers and the jiminy with her in her pinafrond, lace at night, at another time. And where did she come but to the bar of his bristolry. And Jarl van Hoother had his baretholobruised heels drowned in his cellarmalt, shaking warm hands with himself and the jiminy Hilary and the dummy in their first infancy were below on the tearsheet, wringing and coughing, like brodar and histher. And the prankquean nipped a paly one and lit up again and redcocks flew flackering from the hillcombs. And she made her witter before the wicked, saying: Mark the Twy, why do I am alook alike two poss of porterpease? And Shut! says the wicked, hand-wording her madesty.
    So her madesty a forethought set down a jiminy and took up a jiminy and all the lilipath ways to Woeman’s Land she rain, rain, rain. And Jarl van Hoother blethered atter her with a loud finegale: Stop domb stop come back with my earring stop. But the prankquean swaradid: Am liking it. And there was a wild old grannewwail that laurency night of starshootings somewhere in Erio. And the prankquean went for her forty years’ walk in Turnlemeem and she punched the curses of cromcruwell with the nail of a top into the jiminy and she had her four larksical monitrix to touch him his tears and she provorted him to the onecertain allsecure and he became a tristian.
    So then she started raining, raining, and in a pair of changers, be dom ter, she was back again at Jarl van Hoother’s and the Larryhill with her under her abromette. And why would she halt at all if not by the ward of his mansionhome of another nice lace for the third charm? And Jarl van Hoother had his hurricane hips up to his pantrybox, ruminating in his holdfour stomachs (Dare! O dare!), and the jiminy Toughertrees and the dummy were belove on the watercloth, kissing and spitting, and roguing and poghuing, like knavepaltry and naivebride and in their second infancy. And the prankquean picked a blank and lit out and the valleys lay twinkling. And she made her wittest in front of the arkway of trihump, asking: Mark the Tris, why do I am alook alike three poss of porter pease? But that was how the skirtmisshes endupped.
    For like the campbells acoming with a fork lance of lightning, Jarl van Hoother Boanerges himself, the old terror of the dames, came hip hop handihap out through the pikeopened arkway of his three shuttoned castles, in his broadginger hat and his civic chollar and his allabuff hemmed and his bullbraggin soxangloves and his ladbroke breeks and his cattegut bandolair and his furframed panuncular cumbottes like a rudd yellan gruebleen orangeman in his violet indigonation, to the whole longth of the strongth of his bowman’s bill. And he clopped his rude hand to his eacy hitch and he ordurd and his thick spch spck for her to shut up shop, dappy. And the duppy shot the shutter clup (Perkodhuskurunbarggruauyagokgorlayorgromgremmitghundhurthrumathunaradidillifaititillibumullunukkunun!) And they all drank free.
    For one man in his armour was a fat match always for any girls under shurts. And that was the first peace of illiterative porthery in all the flamend floody flatuous world. How kirssy the tiler made a sweet unclose to the Narwhealian captol. Saw fore shalt thou sea. Betoun ye and be. The prankquean was to hold her dummyship and the jimminies was to keep the peacewave and van Hoother was to git the wind up. Thus the hearsomeness of the burger felicitates the whole of the polis.

  2. Don’t get him started, Language.

  3. There was some brief discussion of some varied media spin-offs at Varieties of Unreligious Experience some years ago.
    Wonderful that Ubuweb has preseved Mary Ellen Bute’s effort to film parts with actors from Cannes 1965.
    The animated web site that went with Susan Weil’s “Eye’s Ear for James Joyce” at Sundaram Tagore has been taken down, but there’s The Wayback Machine. She was read it as a child. Were you, too, John Cowan?

  4. Ach! Be steel, my hart!
    The Bayou Tapis-tree and Gorenikē, all roiled into wine.
    How now any producTVday, Porterpiss?

  5. Thank you for this.
    I hope that his gorgeous illustrations will serve as an entry point for some readers
    I keep trying to nibble away at the edges of Joyce, mostly because of people here who like him, at least until I get distracted by the next shiny toy. Mostly it was Noetica who made Ulysses more accessible with his talk of kipper–I never knew there were people in the world who ate fish for breakfast to the point of considering them synonyms. It does seem the words are meant to be observed rather than read.
    Though I fear our artist does not know what “pulled a rosy one and made her wit foreninst [opposite, in front of] the door” (p. 21) means
    Why? What does it mean? And how do you pronounce prankquean?

  6. Nijma:
    … pulled a rosy one and made her wit foreninst [opposite, in front of] the door
    What does it mean?
    Good question. I suppose we should be reminded of Lorca’s “Preciosa y el aire”:

    Niña, deja que levante
    tu vestido para verte.
    Abre en mi dedos antiguos
    la rosa azul de tu vientre.

    So to pull a rosy one would have an especially “blue” meaning.
    And how do you pronounce prankquean?
    Um, /ˈpræŋkkwiːn/? Though of course, in Catalan …
    Mostly it was Noetica who made Ulysses more accessible with his talk of kipper
    I’ll let that one go through to the kipper, along with the inevitable Jewish breakfast ejaculation (“Yum, kipper”).
    Now, if Ulysses is a nycthémère (one that, unlike history, one is reluctant to be woken from) Finnegans Wok furnishes feastfuls of fantasms that one scareusly knows how to upbroach. As I sigh above (remembering those kippers), a kind of smokehousebord:

    A Bayeutiful Tapas-treat and Girlniqueur, ale rôled into wine.

    And of curse it has inflounced many a letter nobble:

    What th–? I am a lookalike a pace of portnoypiece?

    Beast, steal my hoard!
    (Best till my garth. “More later.”)

  7. So prankquean might not rhyme with protean, Boolean, Crimean, epicurean, or European.
    la rosa azul-an especially “blue” meaning
    …but not “una empresa imposible” or “algo inalcanzable”? Or how about “pink heaven” (cielo) (usado más en lenguaje poético) as a translation for rosa azul? (some adjectives in Spanish come after the noun for emphasis). Could Lorca be having a little pun with us? But there’s Jackson Browne’s American “Looks like it’s me and you again tonight, Rosie”, so maybe it’s some sort of Cockney or even Irish?
    The prankquean passages would appear to refer to Grace O’Malley, but the usual online sources only tell of her kidnapping the Howth heir, although there is a passing mention of her crossing paths with a Joyce clan.

  8. So prankquean might not rhyme with protean …
    Proteanitisandall. Sametimes it is not passibyl to fox any won pronunciation, for the nounse. The very spieling is magistically micst, so what hoype for the dungue?
    The Prankquean pools arrosy anoint the gate. Pouredherpiss, in cuntsequence of pulling a rosy.
    If Portrait is Latin, and Ulysses Greek, Finnegans is Proudo’Uropeeing, and the PrideofErin toobeaut. As poundloose as the Wordpool of Urainic Occeamsdream, its-elf. A fairytable smackassbawd.

  9. Nijma: It means, or at least one thread of its meaning is, that she exposed her vulva and urinated against the door. In the next section we are told that she “nipped a paly one”, which I conceive to mean that she exposed her buttocks. Like any good European folktale, everything comes in threes: “made her wit”, “made her witter”, “made her wittest”, except when it comes in pairs, see below.
    MMcM: Indeed I was; when I say that I learned the Wake at my father’s knee, I mean that literally.
    Noetica: It seems you have won one for the Kipper.
    Some commentary on the tale, set down mostly as it occurs to me, basic stuff really:
    leal ribber-robber: Loyal rib-robber, Eve, Adam’s madameen, or “little woman”.
    everybully … everybuddy … everybilly Male Everybodies (the last being also a goat, hi there, Crown), with everybiddy as a female Everybody.
    laying cold hands upon himself: Masturbating, but the hands get warmer as the tale goes on.
    jiminies: Geminis, twins.
    cousins of ourn: Since this is in Adam and Eve’s day, the characters of the tale can’t be quite human; perhaps they are descendants of Adam and Lilith.
    Hilary and Tristopher: Mirth and sadness, later swapping roles as Hilary becomes a tristian and Tristopher becomes a luderman ‘game-player’. Given that it is four owld masters (the Four Masters who wrote the chronicles of Ireland) and four larksical monitrix who achieve these transformations, we may also read these terms as ‘homosexual’ and ‘heterosexual’ respectively. Their names are also inverted to Larryhill and Toughertrees.
    However, the paired phrases convorted him to the onesure allgood and provorted him to the onecertain allsecure also suggest the conversion of the Irish to Christianity, though a rather unsettled variety given onesure … onecertain which can be read as ‘one sure … one certain’ or ‘unsure … uncertain’ or a combination of the two, and the debate over whether God’s goodness could be said to actually mean anything, given his omniscience and omnipotence.
    dummy: The twins’ younger sister, or possibly brother, given the ambiguous phrase like brodar and histher, though the latter may be no more than a portmanteau for ‘his sister’. This ambiguity well represents the polymorphous-perverse state in which the twins exist before the prankquean gives them their sexual educations and orientations. Family inc*st in its most literal form is well-represented in the tale throughout.
    Stop deef: “Stop thief!”, but van Hoother is also calling the prankquean deaf in older pronunciation, as later he calls her domb ‘dumb’.
    grace o’malice … madesty aforethought: Malice aforethought, Grace O’Malley, and the “maddened queen” of modern chess, who unlike her ancestors can move all across the board in a single move. The grannewail that we hear of is not only a granny-wail, but Grace’s name in Irish, Gráinne (Ní) Mháille, as well as corresponding to the earlier brannewail.
    handworded … swaradid: ‘Answered’ in German and Danish respectively. Van Hoother’s cries are first in Norwegian (soft dovesgall = dubh gall ‘dark stranger, Norwegian’) and then in Danish (loud finegale = finn gall ‘light stranger, Dane’). though why his castle or whorehouse (see below) should speak German isn’t clear to me. The Irish, English, Danish, and Norwegian roots of modern Ireland are stressed by Joyce throughout the book.
    be dermot … be redtom … be domter: More inversions, of which the first and last can be read ‘by dammit’ and ‘be damned to her’.
    skirtmisshes: Battles with skirts, or women by metonymy.
    bristolry: Probably a whorehouse or similar, given bristols ‘breasts’, from rhyming slang Bristol city ‘titty’. Bar could be a sandbar or the bar associated with the establishment.
    Tourlemond: A tour of tout le monde, read here literally. It later appears a little more distorted as Turnlemeem.
    ruminating in his holdfour stomachs: suggesting that van Hoother is a bull with its four stomachs, of which the rumen is the first.
    poghuing: Kissing.
    like the campbells acoming: From the song, coming to murder the McDonalds in the Massacre of Glencoe. Van Hoother may well have murder on his mind before he is deflected by thoughts of sex.
    cattegut: ‘Catgut’, but where the Kattegat is, the Skagerrak must be somewhere about, though I admit I don’t see it.
    rudd yellan gruebleen orangeman in his violet indigonation: The spectrum, with verbal inversion in gruebleen, and Orangeman ‘Protestant Irishman’. The order is a bit scrambled to get adjectives before nouns and indignation in the last place.
    ordurd: ‘Commanded’ and ‘defecated’.
    Perkodhuskurunbarggruauyagokgorlayorgromgremmitghundhurthrumathunaradidillifaititillibumullunukkunun!: A thunderclap (there are ten of them in the Wake) beginning with perk- as in Perkunas, the Lithuanian thunder-god, and going on for 96 more letters — there is a whole book about these, with one chapter per thunderclap. Also and anticlimactically the sound of the dummy (now the duppy) closing the shutter.
    For one man in his armour was a fat match always for any girls under shurts: A parody of Swift’s remark in the Drapier Letters: “Indeed the Arguments on both Sides were invincible; for in Reason, all Government without the Consent of the Governed is the very Definition of Slavery; but in Fact, Eleven Men well armed, will certainly subdue one single Man in his Shirt.
    Boanerges: Sons of thunder, from the Gospels.
    illiterative porthery: Alliterative, and also illiterate, poetry, but further harking back to the poss of porterpease in the prankquean’s riddle questions, which is also a slightly drunken version of “Pint of porter, please”. This phrase well represents the means by which the Wake was constructed: Joyce wrote down words and phrases he wanted to use in his notebooks, and then crossed them off when he had worked them in somehow. Without the compressions and distortions, the Wake would have been ten times longer than it is.
    Thus the hearsomeness of the burger felicitates the whole of the polis: The motto of Dublin Corporation, Obedientia civium urbis felicitas. This is another motif of the Wake, later appearing as Thine obesity, O civilian, hits the felicitude of our orb!. This is also why van Hoother has three shuttoned castles, the three burning castles on Dublin’s coat of arms.
    I could go on, but like all good commentaries this one has already grown larger than the original. Joyce said that he wrote for the “ideal reader with ideal insomnia”, which Northrop Frye rightly interpreted as “the critic”. But it was Samuel Beckett who asked the really appropriate question: “Is Mr Joyce’s hog latin making obscenity safe for literature?” Apparently so: nobody ever tried to ban Finnegans Wake.

  10. Kippers do repeat on you. Usually the old song “Whale, kipper, whelk, come in the eel-side.”

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