Finnegans Wake
James Joyce

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"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

With all of the literary prestige associated with James Joyce’s Ulysses, people tend to forget his true masterpiece, Finnegan’s Wake, which he spent the last twenty years of his life working on. Written in a cryptic dream-language filled with a plethora of fake words, multilingual portmanteaus, and intentional misspellings, the novel is impossible to read and comprehend in its entirety without extensive focus and dedication.

The question is not why Joyce decided to write such a complex piece of fiction, but rather how he managed to write Finnegans Wake and why it is so difficult to understand. How many languages are utilized within, and how much of the book is actually in English? By abandoning modern conventions and blatantly disregarding spelling and grammar, Joyce leaves the reader to figure out everything on their own. How many of the words are made-up, or just combinations of existing words, and how can we tell?

Our goal for this project is to tag as much of Finnegans Wake as possible in XML, paying closest attention to individual words and phrases of foreign or unknown origin. The etymology of Finnegans Wake will be explored through careful analysis of the data presented in Joyce’s use of words. In time, we will take great strides in translating the untranslatable behemoth.