At the reading last week to celebrate Shakespeare & Company's inaugural Paris Literary Prize I found my attention wandering repeatedly to a pair of prints hanging over the till. Riverrun, I read, past Eve and Adam's, why does this sound so famil–
Although any self-respecting modernist would have made the connection as soon as they read the word "Riverrun," I blame my delayed reaction on the fact that I was simultaneously listening to one of the three short-listed authors reading from their work. I was, of course, looking at the first sentence of James Joyce's Finnegans Wake, which is also a continuation of the last sentence of Finnegans Wake ("A way a lone a last a loved a long the").
As it turns out, the prints I was looking at were part of Stephen Crowe's project "Wake in Progress," in which the artist is illustrating every page of Joyce's late masterpiece. In honor of Bloomsday, they were on display the previous night at the party where the winners were announced, but I had apparently had too much champagne to notice what was on the walls of the Société des gens de lettres.
According to Crowe, "Joyce’s final work is a giddy, disorienting dream that dramatises the internal conflicts of a sleeper's unconscious through a wild, satirical mash-up of history, myth and tall tale-telling." Crowe honors "the book's playful miscellany by plundering the history of the visual arts, from Medieval illuminations to cartoon strips."
The prints will be up at Shakespeare and Co until June 30th. For more information on the project, visit Crowe's website. And don't miss this short reflection on "Why Finnegans Wake is Better than Ulysses."