The use of German language in James Joyce's "Finnegans Wake"

TSU, Maro-Makaschwili-Lesesaal - 15.35-16.00

James Joyce’s last work Finnegans Wake is his most enigmatic and ambitious work in which Joyce aimed to create ‘the history of mankind’.  Joyce’s extensive use of literary, biblical, mythological and literary allusions, as well as of various languages, while writing about a simple Chapelizod Family, makes it an archetypal image of the Family.

Joyce uses more than 60 languages (Japanese, Chinese, Russian, Polish, etc.). One of the most extensively used languages is German. The paper studies various examples of the use of the German language. The analysis shows that the usage is not accidental, but is always motivated by the context.

However,  the detection of German words  is a rather challenging task, because most of the words contain allusions, puns and a mixture of languages and allude to several things at one and the same time. For example: ‘one yeastyday he sternely’ (FW 4:21), where the word ‘sternely’ on the one hand resembles the German ‘sterne’ (stars) and on the other Laurence Sterne (Irish novelist and an Anglican clergyman); In ‘laeugh of Riesengeborg’ (FW5:6), the word ‘Riesengeborg’ contains an allusion to Riesengebirge, meaning ‘Giant Mountains’ in German (one of the forms the main character of Finnegans Wake takes is mountain), as well as the German word ‘geboren’ (born);

 However, it is these allusions and mixture of languages that make the text multi-layered, intertextualy suggestive and open to interpretation.