'Unfallable encyclicing': Finnegans Wake and the Encyclopedia Britannica

Platt, Len. 2009. 'Unfallable encyclicing': Finnegans Wake and the Encyclopedia Britannica. James Joyce Quarterly, 47(1), pp. 107-118. ISSN 0021-4183 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This essay aims to develop our knowledge about why the 'Encyclopedia Britannica' ('EB') is of such importance to 'Finnegans Wake' and to establish the general nature of what is an extraordinary example of literary intertextuality. While it incorporates 'EB' articles in various ways, the 'Wake' also sets up a specific riposte to the encyclopedic idea. Engaging at a fundamental level with the principles that underline the 'EB', the 'Wake' swallows or 'digests' vast amounts of conventional reason and reasoning. Thus, in the the 'Wake, the 'EB's' universalist attempt to present 'all extant knowledge', as it is discovered by 'the civilized world', fractures, not just against the shifting paradigms that epistemological tradtion always has to accommodate but, more substantially, against what appears to be a complete collapse of an epistemological confidence that once shaped the Enlightenment.

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Social, Therapeutic & Community Engagement (STaCS)



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Date Deposited:

06 Apr 2011 11:18

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 15:49

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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