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Bonheim, Helmut / A lexicon of the German in Finnegans wake

[Preface],   pp. 5-9 PDF (18.0 KB)

Page 5

 James Joyce's Finnegans Wake is in some senses a remarkable example of group
effort: a great many people helped Joyce gather material for it over a period
of seventeen years; and even a rudimentary reading of a page is best performed
by a committee of scholars. 
 Unfortunately no scholar can be expected to come to this epic work with
a knowledge of the score or so of languages which Joyce used in writing it.
My list of German words in Joyce's book seeks to supply non-German readers
with a modest but indispensable' aid which, though dull and unconvincing
by itself, when used in conjunction with Finnegans Wake will help penetrate
the obscurities of that encyclopedic work. The reader will find that a knowledge
of German adds immeasurably to his reading of the work; and it is my hope
that similar lists can be prepared for the other main languages drawn upon
by Joyce. 
 Listed are those words which are in some respect German, not in alphabetical
order but according to their sequence in the book. The page and line numbers
refer to American printings of 1958 and after (Viking Press) and to English
editions of 1950 and after (Faber and Faber). Only in a very few instances
will readers with earlier editions note minor discrepancies. For each Wakeword
listed, the German contents of the word together with an English translation
has been supplied. Some entries will seem altogether convincing in the list,
less so in their context, while others may appear unlikely or farfetched
in the list but useful and essential to the reader who refers back to Finnegans
Wake. The translations are often not of the obvious dictionary sort; they
are designed to convey the meaning of a German word only as it seems to be
used in Joyce's text. Thus I have allowed numerous inconsistencies in citing
German forms, especially verb-forms in all tenses and persons; infinitives,
imperatives, or roots may be given as called for by the context. The translations
are therefore unreliable for other purposes and certainly not to be recommended
for students of German. Some of Joyce's German is eub-standard, non-standard,
and dialect, so that North Germans will fail to recognize usages familiar
to natives of Munich, Vienna, or Zurich. Indeed, the German in Finnegans
Wake is frequently spoken German, as when Joyce uses "geh" instead of "gehe"
with the first person pronoun (reflecting the fact that in conversation the
final "e" is frequently dropped). In such cases I have not hesitated to cite
the conversational (non-literary) form as the source of Joyce's usage. I
have, however, made the concession to standard 

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