Quote of the Day: China’s State-Run News Agency on James Joyce’s “Finnegan’s Wake”

by Joey deVilla on January 31, 2013

finnegans wake chart

Hungarian artist László Moholy-Nagy’s chart showing the psychogeography of Finnegan’s Wake.

It took eight years to translate James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake — a book that barely qualifies as being written in English — into Chinese, but the task is complete and the book is now available in China. Shanghai’s News and Publishing Bureau says that it’s now the number two book in terms of sales of the “good books” category (their term for “serious reads” — no Fifty Shades of Grey here), beaten only a new biography of Deng Xiaoping.

chinese finnegans wake billboard

A Chinese billboard promoting Finnegan’s Wake.

My favourite quote about the book comes from Jiang Xiaoyuan, a professor of Shanghai’s Jiaotong University, who was quoted in Xinhua (China’s state-run news agency) as saying:

“Joyce must have been mentally ill to create such a novel.”

Nope, he was just drunk.

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