Clinton Cahill

    Drawing the Wake: illustrative notational drawing as a valid alternative reading of James Joyce’ Finnegans Wake

    The place of Finnegans Wake in the canon of Western literature might initially to make it appear to be an odd choice of text for illustrative interpretation. However, its peculiar position as a hugely influential, yet relatively unread work suggest it as an appropriate object through which to examine interactions between the literary and the visual imagination. Responses to the Wake in art and design have tended to concentrate on literary/textual explication or on the inspirational influence of the book. This project uses graphic strategies to directly record subjective readings of Joyce’s ‘nightbook’ as both physical and literary object, examining its form, content and specific experiences of reading it engenders. An underlying premise is that aspects of The Wake’s notorious ‘difficulty’ arise from some indeterminacy in its conditional status between word and image. By developing a method of systematically reflexive annotative reading/drawing, informed by critical/contextual considerations, I have embarked on an investigation of the interrelationship of reading and visual imagination. The research takes a ‘core sample’ of the subjective interiority of Wakean reading and explores how the application of creative visual practice might offer a viable mode of reading this challenging literary artwork.